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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2019 - 2020 Regular Session


Posted: July 16, 2020 05:04 PM
From: Senator Andrew E. Dinniman and Sen. Wayne Langerholc, Jr.
To: All Senate members
Subject: Education Package to Address Online Learning, Assessment and Student Supports
Schools this year will be opening in a most difficult time. This package of bills has been put together by Senator Langerholc, Majority Chair of Senate Education Committee and Senator Dinniman, Minority Chair.  Its purpose is to enhance the opening of schools and to assist students, teachers, administrators and staff during the 2020-2021 school year, since we do not yet know the full impact of  Covid-19 on our schools.

As you know, the Senate recently passed SB 1216, sponsored by Senators Langerholc and Dinniman, to assist with temporary teacher certification and we thank you for consideration of these additional bills aimed to assist students, teachers and families during this crisis.  Unlike many other states, the Pennsylvania Constitution gives the Legislature special responsibilities in terms of education (Article III, Section 14).    These bills and others we are working on will  provide the Legislature with the means to exercise that responsibility during this unprecedented time.

While we hope you will sign on as cosponsor to all the bills in this package, we would be grateful for you to sign on to any bills agreeable to you.

Document #1

Introduced as SB1250

Description: Online and distance learning access

This bill will require that lessons provided through online or distance learning be recorded and stored electronically for access by students at a later time.  For example, if a family has more than one child in school with only one device to share, it is impossible for all children to access lessons in “real-time”.

Parents may also want to assist children with lessons at various times during the day and are unable to do so when lessons are not recorded and stored.

The bill also provides that if more than ten percent of students attending a school within a school entity are English as a Second Language students and whose first spoken language is the same language, a computer-based simultaneous translation program must be provided with the online or distance learning.   Instruction or services for a student who receives services under an Individualized Education Program may be excluded if the instruction and services require live interaction.

Document #2

Introduced as SB1251

Description: Assessment Testing Select Committee 

This bill will establish an Assessment Testing Select Committee to study, make findings and recommendations regarding the requirement for and administration of federal testing requirements.  During the pandemic, many students have not been given full opportunity to learn so we must question how any testing can be used in a comparative way.

The committee shall issue a report of its findings and any recommendations to the Governor, the Senate and the House of Representatives by September 14, 2020.

The committee shall be composed of the following:
·         The Chairperson of the Education Committee of the Senate.
·         The Minority Chairperson of the Education Committee of the Senate
·         The Chairperson of the Education Committee of the House of Representatives.
·         The Minority Chairperson of the Education Committee of the House of Representatives. 

Document #3

Introduced as SB1252

Description: Continuity of Education Program 

The bill would ensure that all school children are afforded the opportunity to continue education efforts during mandatory school closures when they lack access to the tools and resources necessary to fully participate in online learning through assistance of volunteer teaching corps.  Some intermediate units, such as Chester County, are already utilizing these volunteers with great success.  As the need for  virtual education increases, PDE and intermediate units will assist in evaluating and sharing the impact of these services, as well as investigating methods to provide wrap-around services and guidance virtually.