News from PA Board of Education

PSBA provides members with valuable weekly updates on relevant legislation and educational activities in Pennsylvania.  Given the abysmally organized, uninformative, confusing, and virtually unnavigable state of the new PDE website, I’m extremely grateful for PSBA’s efforts to inform the public by participating in the uncalendared, unannounced, unreported state events and dedicating resources to reporting out in a timely and responsible way.

This week PSBA provided the following news item on topics that I and many of our residents monitor closely:

State Board of Education discusses various initiatives

The State Board of Education held its first meeting of the year, hearing updates on various initiatives of the board and the Department of Education, and discussing activities for the year. The board heard reports regarding PDE’s Race to the Top application and the recent report of the Virtual High School Study Commission.

This year the State Board will continue its work on the priorities identified last year. They are: teacher effectiveness; high school reform; and student safety, health and wellness.  The board also will be discussing issues related to the structure of school systems and school governance.

The board has a three-pronged plan to address student safety, health and wellness. One area the board will work on is to draft new regulations regarding physical education and activity. State Secretary of Health Everett James presented information to the board on childhood obesity rates in Pennsylvania, and current state initiatives in select schools, including the Active Schools Grant program. He noted that while there is a national recommendation for all students to have 60 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity a day, he suggested that 30 minutes may be feasible.

Another initiative the board is working on is to examine issues related to school climate/school safety.  The board discussed the ongoing research and work of its School Climate Committee and also heard presentations from the National School Climate Council. The board intends to create regulations incorporating school climate standards. The regulations would focus on systems that the education community can provide to promote a safe school environment for students, and also to assist students with interpersonal decision-making skills.

Finally, the board is working on developing regulations for student nutrition. The board is currently working on a draft that will be issued for public comment later this year.