Partners Post: April 2018

Opening a dialogue about school safety

On the eve of the 19th anniversary of the school shooting at Columbine High School, members of organizations representing families, educators, school administrators, school boards, and law enforcement joined parents, students, and Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro for a town hall meeting on school safety issues.

The town hall was hosted by the Susquehanna Township School District and was live streamed on and via Facebook Live. Participants sent questions and comments via email, Twitter, and Facebook, and the result was a meaningful dialogue about what Pennsylvanians can do to make our schools safer places to learn and work.

The participants agreed that risk assessment must be done on a school-by-school basis, and that it is key to recognize problem signs ahead of time. Attorney General Shapiro said he is working with a bipartisan group of lawmakers on legislation to create a clearinghouse within his office to report such information.

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Support legislation to improve testing policies

Standardized tests aren’t the only way to measure students’ abilities, and they’re certainly not the best way to do it.

Sen. Tom McGarrigle recognizes that there are several valid and rigorous options to measure students’ postsecondary readiness. That’s why he has introduced Senate Bill 1095.

Senate Bill 1095 offers students who do not score proficient on Keystone Exams alternative pathways to demonstrate their readiness to graduate from high school. The Keystone Exam graduation requirement has been delayed until the 2019-20 school year. The alternate graduation options in Senate Bill 1095 would take effect when the Keystone Exam delay expires.

Under Senate Bill 1095, students would be required to:

  • Meet or exceed a composite score across Keystone Exams in algebra I, biology, and literature, and demonstrate at least “basic” performance on each of the three exams;
  • Meet or exceed local grade requirements in subjects tested by the Keystone Exams and complete a subject-specific advanced placement, international baccalaureate, or armed services vocational aptitude test, gain acceptance in a registered apprenticeship program, or attain a career readiness certificate; or
  • Meet or exceed local grade requirements in subjects tested by the Keystone Exams and present at least three pieces of evidence from the student’s career portfolio, which is required for federal accountability under the Every Student Succeeds Act.

Take a moment to urge your state lawmakers to support Senate Bill 1095.

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Update on ESSA

Gov. Tom Wolf’s administration has put a plan in place to implement the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) in Pennsylvania that focuses on a more balanced approach to school accountability, reduces time spent on high-stakes standardized testing, and increases supports for Pennsylvania educators and students.

ESSA programs drive billions of dollars in education funding to states primarily through Title I. However, in order to receive this federal funding, each state must submit a plan to the United States Department of Education (USDOE) and receive approval of the plan. Pennsylvania’s ESSA Consolidated State Plan was approved by the USDOE on January 18, 2018.

In its plan, Pennsylvania commits to implement four initiatives to provide all students with a high-quality, rigorous education:

  • Ensuring well-rounded, rigorous, and personalized learning experiences for all students.
  • Addressing the needs of students through school-based supports and community partnerships.
  • Promoting successful transitions in early childhood through postsecondary education.
  • Promoting positive school climate and social-emotional learning.

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You can't put a price tag on this

Subcontracting in public schools rarely saves money, but it does hurt school communities and the dedicated employees who live and work there.

That’s why legislators have introduced a bipartisan bill protecting paraprofessionals, bus drivers, cafeteria workers, custodians, and maintenance workers from having their jobs outsourced to for-profit companies.

The legislative package prohibits school entities from subcontracting services currently provided by school employees without first:

  • soliciting proposals for public review
  • identifying three-year cost projections
  • disclosing cost comparisons between the services provided by school employees and the for-profit company, and
  • holding a public hearing to receive public input.

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Partners Benefits Spotlight:  

What do appliance repair, dry cleaning, moving, and storage have in common? They are all services that you'll need at one time or another — that you can save money on by using your Partner Benefits.

Simply go to the Access Program website and log in (or create an account using your Partners' membership number). Then select "Services" under Categories on the left-hand column to start saving.


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