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Category Archives: Education Watch

Education Advocates: Ending School Discipline Guidance Won’t Improve Safety

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By: Andrea Sears

PHILADELPHIA – Education advocates are condemning a Federal Commission on School Safety report that recommends ending Obama-era policies against discriminatory discipline practices in schools.

Studies have shown that black and brown students are punished more frequently and more harshly than are their white peers for similar or lesser infractions.

According to Raynelle Brown Staley, policy director at the Education Law Center, ending the policies won’t change the law – discrimination based on race, disability or identity will still be illegal – but if the change goes into effect, it will have an impact.

“We think it’s going to invite discrimination to occur,” she said, “because the Department of Education has shown their unwillingness to protect the civil rights of students across our country.”

The anti-discrimination policies only served as guidance, but their critics have claimed they have hampered teachers’ ability to discipline students and compromised school safety.

The recommendation to rescind the discipline policies is, in part, a reaction to mass school shootings such as the one in Parkland, Fla. However, Staley said, efforts to end racial disparities in educational discipline are a totally separate issue.

“There’s no correlation between the implementation of restorative justice and other strategies as alternatives to school discipline and the mass shootings that prompted the School Safety Commission report,” she said.

She noted that Pennsylvania school districts that have implemented policies to limit suspensions and expulsions have seen school climates improve.

Staley said Pennsylvania’s Department of Education has stated that it maintains a commitment to examining issues of discrimination, in suspension and other forms of school discipline.

“So, we feel confident that the Pennsylvania Department of Education will continue to uphold the civil rights of students across the state,” she said.

Staley added that the School Safety Commission report also recommends that school districts consider arming school personnel, a policy many believe would severely compromise school safety.

The School Safety Commission report is online at

Planting the Seed: Agriculture Secretary Introduces Future Workforce to Promising Ag Careers at Oregon Dairy Family Farm Days

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Lititz, PA – Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding continued the Planting the Seed Tour today at Oregon Dairy’s Family Farm Days, meeting with young people and their parents who came out to explore a working dairy farm and meet the people who care for animals, raise crops, and work in the many careers needed to produce the food, fiber, and fuel that powers our economy.

“Pennsylvania agriculture is a thriving, $135 billion industry, but our workforce is aging,” Sec. Redding said. “We will need young people like those here today to fill the more than 75,000 job openings we anticipate in the next decade. Today is a great opportunity to see firsthand what it takes to make a farm operate, and to meet the farm managers, veterinarians, soil and water conservationists, and others who make life happen on the farm and in the agriculture and food businesses that make our communities and economy strong.”

During the event, Redding talked with children and their parents about the diverse jobs and careers in agriculture, and offered examples of the STEM careers that will be in greater demand in coming years to service and operate increasingly computer-based farm technology, research and develop new methods to produce enough food to feed a rapidly growing world population, and manage limited land and water resources.

In his 2018-19 budget, Governor Wolf proposed PAsmart – a first-of-its-kind workforce development proposal to invest $50 million for STEM and computer science education, support hands-on technical education programs, and encourage employers and schools to work together to help students get the skills employers need. The proposal would invest an additional $10 million in career readiness programs, allowing high school students to earn both a diploma and post-secondary credentials and helping non-traditional students and workers earn post-secondary credits and credentials aligned to in-demand careers.

To learn more about traditional and STEM careers in agriculture and food production, or to read the state’s Agriculture Economic Impact Study, visit

Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs Secretary Joins Rite Aid to Launch In-Store Medication Disposal Unit

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Lemoyne, PA – Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs Secretary Jennifer Smith today joined Rite Aid’s President and Chief Operating Officer Kermit Crawford, United States Representative Scott Perry, and State Representative Sheryl Delozier to launch the pharmacy’s first in-store medication disposal unit. Rite Aid’s unit – with a total of 100 planned at stores nationwide – joins the more than 730 prescription drug take-back boxes available in pharmacies, Pennsylvania State Police barracks, and local police and government offices around the commonwealth.

“As the Wolf Administration fights the prescription opioid and heroin epidemic, we need strong partnerships between the public and private sectors to maximize response on all fronts,” said Secretary Smith.  “Increasing availability and awareness of take-back boxes makes Pennsylvanians safer, and I thank Rite Aid for their commitment to fighting this crisis.”

Medication disposal units, or take-back boxes, allow people to take an active role in making their homes and communities safer by lowering the risk of prescription drug misuse. More than 52,000 pounds of prescription drugs have been disposed of in 2018. To date, 400,000 pounds of prescription drugs have been safely disposed of at Pennsylvania’s take-back boxes since 2014.

Secretary Smith encouraged Pennsylvanians with unused and unneeded medications to utilize this and other safe disposal units around Pennsylvania.

“Prescription drug misuse is a major catalyst for the heroin and opioid epidemic that we are fighting every day, and too many people with an opioid use disorder obtain medicine from family and friends’ medicine cabinets,” she said. “Disposing of medication is a small step that can make a big difference towards protecting yourself and loved ones. I strongly encourage all Pennsylvanians to look through your medicine cabinets, find old or unneeded medications, and locate a take-back box near you.”

A map of take-back box locations searchable by county and zip code can be found on the Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs’ website.

For more information on the opioid crisis in Pennsylvania, visit

PA Council on the Arts and PA Turnpike Commission Unveil Student-Created Artwork at King of Prussia Turnpike Service Plaza

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King of Prussia, PA – Today, the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts (PCA) and Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission (PTC) unveiled a new artwork, designed and created by students at Radnor High School. This is the fourth art piece created through Art Sparks, a partnership between the PCA’s Arts in education residency program and the PTC. Art Sparks was created to bring student-created artwork to service plazas across the PTC’s 550-mile system.

Coordinated through the PCA’s regional Arts in Education partner, the Philadelphia Arts in Education Partnership, students worked with teaching artist, Baily Cypress, and art teachers, Erik Barrett and Tracey Dean, to design and create the artwork. The finished mixed media mosaic, titled “the Gateway to the Main Line,” features 17 individual mosaics. Each mosaic depicts a landmark selected by the students based on its community, historic or aesthetic merit.

“Art Sparks presents students with the rare opportunity to create permanent artwork for public display,” said Karl Blischke, PCA executive director. “Not only did this experience help you grow as artists, but you’ve commendably highlighted your community’s many assets and landmarks for Turnpike travelers. I applaud you all for bringing this impressive installation to life.”

The unveiling event, which took place at the King of Prussia Service Plaza, drew individuals from the community to help celebrate, including students, families and local and state officials. “It’s amazing how art brings people together,” commented PTC CEO Mark Compton, who shared remarks at the event. “This project proves how young people can use their imaginations, work together and create something beautiful that motivates others. This piece, which now has a home at the King of Prussia Service Plaza, shows the world what this region has to offer.”

Art Sparks is a partnership between the PTC and the PCA. The program pairs K-12 art students and teaching artists from the PCA’s Arts in Education roster with the goal to install a local, student-created artwork in every service plaza, system-wide, over the next five to eight years. Schools near each respective service plaza host 20-day teaching artist residencies led by a local PCA teaching artist. Students work with the artist and members of the community to create artwork that reflects the region. For more information on Art Sparks, visit or

Lancaster County Homeowners May Pay Octorara Area School District $312 More in 2018-19 School Year

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Key Points:

Presented By: Jeffery Curtis at the work session

As of May total revenues were $53,393,594

Spending was $54,954,887

Resulting in a $1.56M deficit

Potential tax increases may result in Chester County where median homestead property homeowners in the Octorara Area School District may pay an additional $56 per year, and $312  in Lancaster County. “That’s just a guess” Curtis states.

For more, tune in to the meeting here:


SoLanco High School Graduation This Friday at 7 p.m To be broadcast on YouTube

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High School - Mule WEB

By: Keith Kaufman, Director of Community Relations for Solanco School District


The bleachers at the Solanco High School football field will be filled with jubilant family, friends and supportive community members Friday evening to celebrate as seniors in the Class of 2018 receive their diplomas. The graduation ceremony will be broadcast on Solanco YouTube Friday evening beginning at 7 p.m.

Here is a list of the seniors in the Solanco Class of 2018.

Distinguished Speaker David Lehman, Solanco Class of 1964, will speak to graduating seniors about how vision, persistence and hard work are key ingredients to success in life.  “Go out and work hard, stick with it, and always think positively about the future of the world, your country, your family, and especially yourself.” Lehman is a recent inductee into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame, and he is a leader in the oil and gas exploration industry.

Class valedictorian Sophie Plechner, salutatorian Abigail Nelson, and class president Tori Delp will also address their graduating classmates.


Congratulations and best of luck to the Solanco Class of 2018!

Top 10 NASA iTech Energy Cycle Finalists Announced

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The NASA iTech Energy competition has selected the top 10 finalists to present their game-changing technologies at a forum next month in New York. The 2018 NASA iTech Cycle II Energy is a collaborative effort between NASA and the U.S. Department (DOE) of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) to find and foster innovative solutions for critical energy challenges on Earth and in space.
The 10 finalists were selected by a multi-disciplinary team of experts from NASA and ARPA E. The finalists will present June 13 and 14 at the NASA iTech Energy Forum, hosted by Citi Global at its headquarters in New York City. Representatives from NASA, DOE, other government agencies, industry, potential investors and others from across the United States will listen in as the finalists for NASA iTech share their innovative ideas.
“I look forward to seeing these 10 finalists present their ideas at the upcoming iTech forum in New York”, said Kira Blackwell, NASA iTech program executive in the Space Technology Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “This is a unique opportunity to present their technologies at an event convening two federal agencies and hosted by a global private sector bank seeking solutions to common energy challenges.”
The competition invited applicants to submit their concepts for: Fuel Cells and Regenerative Fuel Cells, High-energy-density Batteries and Supercapacitors, Solar Power Systems, Small Fission Power Systems, Innovative Power Management and Distribution and X-Factor Energy. The final category included entries that may not fit within a specific energy focus area but clearly demonstrate the potential to fill a critical need for NASA and humans on Earth.
The top three teams selected at the forum will be recognized during a nonmonetary awards ceremony on June 14 and will be available for interviews. Media interested in covering the forum should contact Gina Anderson at by June 8 to register.
The top 10 NASA iTech Energy Cycle finalists are (in alphabetical order):
·AsterTech, LLC, Beavercreek, OH
3D Additive Manufacturing of High Efficiency and Light-Weight Solar Cells for In-Space Applications
·ATEIOS, San Diego, CA
Printed Batteries for Ubiquitous & Conformal Electronics
·Atomos, Denver, CO
Splitting the Atom to Connect the Planets: A Commercial Nuclear Power System for Space Operations
·Environment and Energy Benefit Co., West Sacramento, CA
BBB: X Factor Liquid Fuel
·iFeather, Boulder, CO
In-situ Fabrication of Extraterrestrial Aerogels for Transparency, Heat, and Energy Regulation (iFEATHER) for Habitat, Aeronautic and Space Vessel, and Space Suit Applications
·The Pennsylvania State University – Department of Materials Science and Engineering, University Park, PA
Lightweight Monolithic Microcell CPV for Space
·Stanford University – Department of Electrical Engineering, Stanford, CA
Two C: Transportation Electrification through Ubiquitous Wireless Charging
·University of Michigan and Unified Solar Collaboration, Ann Arbor, MI
Photovoltaic Cell-Level Power Balancing Using Intrinsic Energy Storage for High-Efficiency, High-Reliability Solar Power
·V-Glass, Pewaukee, WI
Vacuum Glass for R-10 Windows
·WBGlobalSemi, Inc., Lakewood Ranch,
Commercializing High Power Silicon Carbide (SiC) Bipolar Junction Transistors (BJTs) and Power Modules for Power Management and Distributed Power Applications
NASA iTech is an initiative by the NASA Space Technology Mission Directorate and managed by the National Institute of Aerospace in Hampton, Virginia.
To watch the teams present their ideas live on June 13 (9:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. EDT) and June 14 (9:10 a.m. – noon), visit:
For information about the NASA iTech initiative, visit:
For information about NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate, visit:

Poll Shows Strong Support for More Education Aid

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Andrea Sears

HARRISBURG, Pa. – Pennsylvanians from both sides of the political aisle support full funding of public education, according to a new poll.

The poll, conducted for the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center by the polling firm TargetSmart, found that almost six in ten respondents favor making full funding of K-through-12 public education a top legislative priority.

According to Ben Lazarus, director of research and analytics at TargetSmart, that includes 76 percent of liberal Democrats.

“The numbers remain well above majority when we look at independents, moderate Republicans and even conservative Republicans, 57 percent of whom want the state Legislature to prioritize improving the public schools,” says Lazarus.

The poll found that 56 percent of all respondents feel the state invests too little money in public education, compared with just 12 percent who think the state spends too much.

Mark DiRocco, head of the Pennsylvania Association of School Administrators, says the poll results show a growing public awareness that even with recent increases, state public school subsidies are not keeping up with growing costs.

“Consequently you have several school districts around the state who continue not to replace personnel when they resign or when they retire, continue to cut back on programs for kids that are much needed, whether they be reading programs or math programs” says DiRocco.

He adds that one-third of districts responding to an annual survey report they have cut staff, programs or both for the last seven years in a row.

Rich Askey, vice president of the Pennsylvania State Education Association, points out that Governor Tom Wolf and the state Legislature have restored much of the billion dollars cut from education funding eight years ago.

“Our next priority is to keep increasing funding for our public schools so that they can start investing in new programs, new resources, and we can add new technologies,” says Akey. “We just need to keep it up.”

The education-funding poll is part of a campaign called “We the People” that the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center and other organizations will be launching later this month.