Wednesday, January 26, 2022
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LEGISLATIVE COMMITTEE REPORT - MARCH 2020

In spite of being lockdown or quarantined or whatever, the committee met by Zoom.  For this “old” guy it took a little getting used to the mechanics of it all but by and large we were rather successful in pulling off the meeting and receiving a lot of info.

A good deal of conversation centered on how school districts will deal with lost time and assurances that teachers will not be harmed by making up days or by loss of salary or PSERS TIME.

Second part of the conversation dealt with the substitute teacher issue.  Most agreed it was part of the larger teacher shortage issue.  Legislation is in the works to address the role of retirees as substitutes.  The committee by and large did not want to see the waiver of certification to fill substitute slots.  GR explained the legislation would allow inactive certified teachers to return to service, would allow more than 90 days and would be able to teach immediately without the district going through an entire list of subs first.  This is all good news for retirees wishing to act as substitutes.

Covid’s effect on school policy was foremost in discussion.

Emergency provisions enacted include: waiver of the 180 day requirement, increased flexible instruction days, require school districts to make a good faith effort to provided education services to students, and a waiver by PDE from PSSA and Keystone Exam, NOCTI and NIMS  testing.

All employees including ESP as of March 13, 2020 would receive no more or less compensation than they would have.  Proper protective gear would be provided for all custodians doing deep cleaning.

No school employee as of march 13 would receive more of less credit to the PSERS retirement code.

Student teacher 12 week requirement is waived.  Professional Development requirements are extended by 1 year. Educator Evaluation would waive the student performance components of evaluation.

School District reimbursement from the state would be the same as if the pandemic did not occur.  Cyber and Charter reimbursement would be based on enrollment as of March 13. Private school entities would receive payment from school districts based on March 13 enrollment.

Parents of Special Ed students with IEP’s would be insured the local district had a plan to insure delivery of appropriate education.

Legislative wins for PSEA members

Teacher Evaluation reduces student achievement proponents and increases observation/practices weighting, reduced standardized test score weighting and increases a poverty indicator. Improvement window was reduced from 10 years to 4.  Limitations on the number of Distinguished teachers was eliminated and no teacher could be rated “needs improvement” solely on student scores.

We also took some positions on current legislation introduced in the Legislature.

HB 978…position of SUPPORT… THIS BILL AMENDS TO Right to Know Law to protect Social Security numbers

SB 992…position of SUPPORT… Amends the school code to waive citizenship requirements for certification when an individual has a valid immigrant visa, work visa or employment authorization document.

HB 590…position of OPPOSE UNLESS AMENDED… would require PDE to mandate statewide curriculum on instructing students with disabilities.  PSEA has long standing beliefs that curriculum is a local issue.  We would accept PDE making a model program for locals to utilize as seen fit.

HR 652…position of SUPPORT AND SEEK AMENDMENT… this would direct the Joint State Government Commission to study the effectiveness of the Department of Ed’s Office for Dispute resolution. There were a number of amendment ideas to make the Resolution more fair and inclusive of all public schools and to insure certain lawyers were not over reaching promotion of suits as a business practice.

HB 2083…position of NEUTRAL… this bill would create a freestanding Deaf Student Bill of Rights.  PSEA has long standing resolutions on all students right to an appropriate education.

HB 1956/SB 1079…position of SUPPORT…requires all school districts to provide a Point of Contact for students who have experienced educational instability through homelessness or foster care.  PSEA Legislative Committee had previously supported this type of legislation and the authors wrote into the bill PSEA recommendations to protect these children.

So, it was a busy three hours of work and discussion using the ZOOM program so that we deliberately safely from our homes.

Until next time…Be safe…be well!!

Steve Harmanos

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