Education updates from the State Capitol

Over the past few weeks, nearly 5,000 PSEA members have contacted their legislators urging them to keep Senate Bill 1095 (Graduation Options) moving toward becoming law.

No single standardized test should overshadow a student’s academic record of accomplishments. That’s why Sen. Tom McGarrigle introduced this legislation and why it has received unanimous support in the Senate. It also got a unanimous vote in the House Education Committee on Sept. 24. 

This bill recognizes that standardized tests aren’t the only way to measure what Pennsylvania’s students know and are able to do. It offers students who do not score “proficient” on Keystone Exams other pathways to demonstrate their readiness to graduate from high school.

Follow along with the progress of the graduation options bill at https://www.psea.org/gradoptions.

Unpacking ESSA implementation

As schools begin to settle in from back-to-school enthusiasm, ESSA planning efforts are also beginning to take shape.

In its Consolidated State Plan (approved by the U.S. Department of Education on Jan. 18, 2018) the PA Department of Education proposed several changes to the commonwealth’s student assessment and school accountability systems, set new statewide, long-term goals for student achievement, and defined new supports for both students and teachers.

This plan focuses on these key areas:

  • Pennsylvania’s long-term student achievement goals
  • Academic assessments
  • Accountability
  • Supporting excellent educators
  • Supporting all students

The state’s ESSA plan takes an important step in the right direction for our students and members because Gov. Tom Wolf listened to PSEA members who spend every day in classrooms.

For more details on Pennsylvania’s Consolidated Plan or to view PSEA’s other ESSA implementation advisories visit www.psea.org/essa.

It?s almost time to vote: Resources & Reminders

The 2018 election could decide the future of public education in Pennsylvania well into the next decade. That's why educators and support professionals need to turn out and VOTE.

Put education first. Help make sure that the future of public education in PA lifts up our schools and our students.

To do that, you must be registered to vote. You can register to vote online using a fast, easy, secure process that takes only about five minutes. Register to vote today on PA's Online Voter Registration page. By registering today, you will be eligible to vote in the General Election on Nov. 6.

For more voter resources such as pro-public education candidates and polling place information, visit the PSEA Voter Toolkit or www.schoolhouseballot.com

Our list of recommendations includes Republican and Democrat candidates. But they all have one thing in common: They support public schools.

PSEA members helped write school safety law

Pennsylvania has a new school safety law, and PSEA members helped write it.

Earlier this year, PSEA asked members to share their ideas about how to make our public schools safe from violence. Members offered nearly 1,000 school safety suggestions, and PSEA President Dolores McCracken shared them with Gov. Wolf and state legislators in a comprehensive report.

Many of those ideas were included in the new school safety law, Act 44, which Gov. Wolf signed in June. It includes $60 million in school safety grants to public schools. Go to www.psea.org/schoolsafety to learn more.

PSEA continues to lead on this issue. President McCracken serves as one of the vice chairs of the new School Safety Task Force, and she recently wrote an op-ed highlighting the hard work of PSEA members and how their efforts are continuing to help shape safety measures in Pennsylvania schools. (Read the full op-ed)

Gov. Wolf: A+ Public Education Champion

Tom Wolf has been a terrific governor for public education. Just ask PSEA members.

“Gov. Wolf listens to educators and supports pro-public education policies. Gov. Wolf [also] advocates for students and stands up for PSEA members.’’ - Bill Gerhauser, psychology and history teacher, Council Rock School District

“Whether he’s talking about testing, subcontracting, funding, or fighting for school employees like me, Gov. Wolf puts public education front and center. He’s made promises, and he’s kept them.’’ - Melanie Hudson, personal care assistant, Upper Darby School District

“Under Gov. Wolf, I have seen our teaching community being more positive, more confident, and ready to take on the future. To know that pensions have been protected under Gov. Wolf is paramount. It’s nice to know that my younger colleagues and teachers coming into the profession are going to have that security.’’ - Erin Chirdon, high school learning support teacher, West Shore School District

Since his first day as governor, Tom Wolf has made public education his number one priority. He has restored $1 billion in school funding cuts and made strategic investments in career and tech education and school safety.

Across Pennsylvania, public school students have seen the impact of these funding increases. In addition to restoring school funding cuts, Gov. Wolf, working with lawmakers from both parties, has:

  • Increased funding for school safety programs by $60 million;
  • Increased funding for career and technical education by $10 million;
  • Lifted the number of students in career and tech ed programs by 42 percent; and
  • Boosted the high school graduation rate to 86 percent.

To hear more about how Gov. Wolf is helping PSEA members and their schools, check out the story in PSEA’s September Voice.

Learning Lessons Video: Teachers in the Parks comes to Reading

On a warm, June day, the sun is peeking through the leaves of towering oak trees outside the Third and Spruce Recreation Center in Reading. Groups of students are huddled around enthusiastic teachers. Children are laughing, smiling, and enjoying their lessons.

And as the breeze blows and birds sing a summer song, this doesn’t feel like a community that is struggling. It doesn’t feel like a community with 40 percent of its residents living in poverty. It feels like a community with hope.

This story is part of a regular series, “Learning Lessons: Great ideas, Great Schools,’’ that features educators who are doing great things or conducting great programs in Pennsylvania’s public schools. For other stories in the series go to www.psea.org/learninglessons.

To learn more about Teachers in the Parks, visit www.teachersintheparks.com.

Member Benefits Spotlight: Save on contact lenses

With your PSEA Member Benefits, you and your family can save big on brand name contact lenses through the Contact Fill program.

Program Benefits:

Dependable service to your home, school or office

Free standard shipping and handling on all orders (use promotion code "PSEA")

Convenient 24/7 online ordering

Personable customer service

No hidden charges

PSEA members must log in to take advantage of this discount program

NVA Vision insurance accepted as a form of payment

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