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Education Update

Below is the current Education Update.  Click here for a list of other recent updates.

Upcoming Trainings:
 
Register now: PASA and PASBO’s Basics of School Budgeting and Finance series kicks off in October with Part 1: Understanding the Basic Educational Formula (BEF). This one-day workshop will be held on three occasions at the three PATTAN locations on Oct. 4, 5, and 11. To register for this session or the full three-part series, click here.
 
Deadline extended:
 
For the 2022-23 school year, PaTTAN is offering a two-tiered approach to customized professional development and coaching at the school level. The Bureau of Special Education (BSE) extended the deadline for applications for comprehensive, systemic technical assistance and coaching supports to October 31.
 
Short-term coaching requests will continue to be reviewed in real-time, and technical assistance and support provided based on the significance of the needs. To access both coaching support applications, and the statewide webinar explaining the process, click here:
https://www.pattan.net/About-Us/Two-Tiers-of-Support
 
In Health, Safety, Equity & Learning News…
 
Changes to SNAP Income Thresholds Will Expand Eligibility for Benefits, Wolf Admin Says— Pennsylvania will increase the income threshold for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) applicants next month, making the program accessible to more Pennsylvanians, Wolf administration officials said on Thursday. Beginning on Oct. 1, Pennsylvania will increase the income threshold for SNAP applicants to 200 percent of the Federal Poverty Income Guidelines (FPIG), the Department of Human Services said, adding that “more than 420,000 additional Pennsylvanians in more than 174,000 households will be newly eligible for SNAP” as a result of the change. Read the rest of the story: “Changes to SNAP Income Thresholds Will Expand Eligibility for Benefits, Wolf Admin Says” (from Pennsylvania Star Capital, 9/22/22)

Pa’s ‘Parental Bill of Rights’ Bill is Designed to Quash Discussions on LGBTQ Issues in School— A group of Republican lawmakers is pushing for legislation to limit how public schools teach topics on gender identity and sexual orientation in classrooms. In a rally on Tuesday, Rep. Stephanie Borowicz (R-Clinton) and other GOP lawmakers were joined by conservative groups and parents to introduce HB 2813. The so-called “Parental Bill of Rights,” would require classes at school to be “age appropriate” and prohibit topics on sexual orientation and gender identity in kindergarten up to fifth grade. Read the rest of the story: “Pa’s ‘Parental Bill of Rights’ Bill is Designed to Quash Discussions on LGBTQ Issues in School” (from NPR Pittsburgh, 9/23/22)
 
In State News…
 
10 Pa. Schools Named National Blue Ribbon Schools— The Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) has announced that 10 schools statewide have been selected as National Blue Ribbon schools by the U.S. Department of Education (USDE). This award is based on each school’s overall academic performance, or the progress made to close the achievement gap among students. “We are incredibly proud of the 10 schools across the commonwealth recognized by USDE today. This is a highly coveted recognition and is just one more reason to applaud the education professionals dedicated and committed to ensuring our students receive a high-quality education,” Acting Secretary of Education Eric Hagarty said. “This further reinforces why the Wolf Administration has made it a top priority to support high-quality education for every student.” Read the rest of the story: “10 Pa. Schools Named National Blue Ribbon Schools” (from PA Homepage, 9/16/22)
 
Gov. Wolf: Record Investment in Education is Major Step Toward Fair Funding for All PA Schools—Governor Tom Wolf joined students, educators, and elected officials in the Aliquippa School District in Beaver County to celebrate the administration’s historic $3.7 billion investment in public education over the past eight years. “While this record amount of education funding is a necessary step forward and one worthy of celebration, we still have a long way to go before education in Pennsylvania is fully and fairly funded,” Governor Wolf said. “Let’s use this as a stepping stone to continue our fight for full, fair funding for all schools in Pennsylvania.” This year’s budget alone includes a record $1.8 billion in education investments. Read the rest of the story: “Gov. Wolf: Record Investment in Education is Major Step Toward Fair Funding for All PA Schools” (from PA Governor’s Office, 9/22/22) 
 
Pa. Waived Its Basic Skills Requirement for Educators. Will it Attract More Teachers?—  Emma Lambert easily passed the writing portion of the basic skills test required of Pennsylvania teaching candidates. The math section took a few more attempts. As for reading? She failed 12 times before hiring a tutor. At lucky 13, she finally passed the test. The declining pipeline of educators-to-be has experts worried the teacher shortage will only get worse. All in all, the whole venture, including a tutor for math, cost the then-East Stroudsburg University student nearly $3,000, and more than three years later she’s still frustrated the state placed so much emphasis on standardized tests — almost upending her career plans. At least for the next three years, Pa. students will no longer have to pass the so-called basic skills tests in reading, math, and writing, or meet the requirement through an alternative, to enroll in teacher preparation programs. Facing a teacher shortage crisis, the state legislature in June agreed to waive the requirement, giving officials a chance to study whether the test really improved the quality of teaching candidates or just deterred students from pursuing the profession. Read the rest of the story: “Pa. Waived Its Basic Skills Requirement for Educators. Will it Attract More Teachers?” (from The Philadelphia Inquirer 9/17/22)
 
“PA Department of Education Celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month At Ben Chambers Elementary School--
 
Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) Executive Deputy Secretary Dr. Debora Carrera today visited Ben Chambers Elementary School to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month with the school’s third- through fifth-grade students. “I am a proud educator, lifelong learner, and Hispanic leader, and I was happy to share my experiences with the school’s young students today,” said Dr. Carrera. “Pennsylvania is for everyone, and this Hispanic Heritage Month, we celebrate the Hispanic educators, students, and families who call our commonwealth home.” National Hispanic Heritage Month is observed annually from September 15 to October 15 and celebrates the histories, cultures, and contributions of American citizens whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central and South America. This year's theme for Hispanic Heritage Month is "Unidos: Inclusivity for a Stronger Nation." The theme encourages us as a nation to ensure that all voices are represented and welcomed to help build stronger communities and a stronger nation. Read the rest of the story: “PA Department of Education Celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month At Ben Chambers Elementary School” (from PA Dept. of Edu, 9/22/22)
 
Bill Would Make School Lunches Free in State— House Democrat Emily Kinkead wants the state Legislature to make official what the Warren County School District already has — make school lunches free for all students. Kinkead, D-Pittsburgh, has introduced a legislative sponsorship memorandum for legislation that would extend free lunches beyond those who have a household income that is at least 185% of the federal poverty level. Read the rest of the story: “Bill Would Make School Lunches Free in State” (from Times Observer 9/19/22)
 
In National and International News…
 
How Social-Emotional Learning Became a Frontline in the Battle Against CRT—It's hard to pinpoint when exactly the questions started coming in. Angelyn Nichols, an administrator for Virginia Beach City Public Schools, thinks it was sometime in early 2021. What she does know is that no one really expected them in the first place, and no one expected them to keep coming – week after week, and now, year after year. That's because the questions involved a decades-old teaching concept many educators thought was settled, uncontroversial territory: the idea that, in order to learn, students need to know how to manage themselves and get along with others. Read the rest of the story: “How Social-Emotional Learning Became a Frontline in the Battle Against CRT” (from NPR, 9/26/22)

Maine Oks First Religious School for Tuition Reimbursement—Maine is ready to fund tuition for some religious school students for the first time since a Supreme Court ruling in June ordered the state to treat those schools the same as other private schools regarding tuition reimbursement. Cheverus High School, a Jesuit college preparatory school in Portland, was the only religious school to apply for participation in the state’s tuition reimbursement plan and its application was approved by the state, a state official said Thursday. Read the rest of the story: “Maine Oks First Religious School for Tuition Reimbursement” (from EducationWeek, 9/23/22)
 
Parents Should Have a Voice in Their Kids’ Education But We’ve Gone Too Far— As kids return to school, the focus on math, science, and reading has been sidelined by campaigns mounted in the name of “parents’ rights.” Advocates are demanding that books be banned from curricula and school libraries, targeting teachers and administrators based on viewpoints, and fighting for control of education boards. There is no question that parents deserve a say in shaping their children’s educations; they have moral and legal responsibility for their children, and the freedom to make fundamental decisions for their families. But the rallying cry of “parents’ rights” is being wielded to do far more than give parents their rightful voice. It is turning public schools into political battlegrounds, fracturing communities, and diverting time and energy away from teaching and learning. Read the rest of the story: “Parents Should Have a Voice in Their kids’ Education But We’ve Gone Too Far” (from Time, 9/20/22)
 
In Legislative News…
 
State legislators and advocates gathered in the Main Rotunda of the State Capitol Building on September 20 to support HB 2813, introduced by Rep. Stephanie Borowicz. The parental rights bill prohibits classroom instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity in kindergarten through 5th grade and requires public schools to adopt procedures for notifying parents if there is a change in services from the school regarding a child’s mental, emotional, or physical health or well-being. 
 
SB 139:  Re-referred to Senate Appropriations—This bill, sponsored by Sen. Mastriano and others, amends the Public School Code to add a moment of silence on the anniversary of September 11.
 
HB 1813: Reported as committed in Senate—This bill, sponsored by Rep. Milou Mackenzie, would allow military children to access registration and enrollment in a school district at the same time it is open to the general population. Under current law, to enroll a student in school, a school district must request proof of residency. This legislation seeks to waive proof of residency requirements until the student begins school.  
                                                                                                 
This Week’s Committee Schedule –
 
House of Representatives:
Next session: Oct. 24 at noon
 
Senate:
Next session: Oct. 17 at 1 p.m.
 
On the PASA Calendar…
 
October 4,5, 11          Basics of School Budgeting and Finances: Understanding the Basic Education Formula       
October 14                PASA Summit for Assistant Superintendents & Supervisors
October 20                Managing the Risks: Record Retention, Right to Know, Board Conflict of Interests, and Litigation Holds
October 31-Nov. 2     PASA/PABA School Leadership Conference
November 10-11        PASA Board of Governors Meeting
November 15             Managing the Risks: Fiscal Responsibilities-Managing Revenues and Expenditures
November 16             Women’s Caucus Annual Fall Dinner
November 17-18        New Superintendents’ Academy Part 2: Systems Leadership
Nov. 28, 29 & Dec. 6  Federal Programs and Special Education Funding-Half-Day Workshop
December 13             Managing the Risks: The PA Public Official and Employees Ethics Act—Compliance and Potential Unintended Violations

Click here to view the full calendar of events.

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