July 12 – Children across the nation last year forced into distance-learning classrooms because of COVID may have lost out on a lot – not just socially, but academically as well.
For parents who are worried that the lack of in-classroom teaching may have put their child behind, the Pennsylvania General Assembly unanimously passed a bill last month that gives parents with students in K-12 the ability to repeat last year.
But the deadline is fast approaching. You have to have the form into your local school district by the close of business THIS THURSDAY, July 15.
You can fill out the form and submit it to your school district here: https://www.education.pa.gov/Schools/safeschools/emergencyplanning/COVID-19/SchoolReopeningGuidance/ReopeningPreKto12/Pages/Student-Grade-Level-Retainment-(Act-66).aspx
Attorney Clint Barkdoll, Pat Ryan and Michele Jansen discussed this bill today during the Big Talk on First News.
Barkdoll pointed out, “It’s curious to me that locally I’m not aware of any school districts that are publicizing this and I’m starting to think this is deliberate. They do not want many people in the public to exercise this option for various reasons. I understand those reasons, but again, if you’re a parent in this situation, just because you’ve not received any information on it, that is the law, but you’ve got a very narrow window right now if it’s something you’re interested in pursuing.”
Jansen added, “A spokesperson from the State Department of Education kind of put the kibosh on it. They urged parents to consider the impact repeating a grade could have on a student who’s behind a year of their classmates. That old idea that somehow you’re hurting a child more to hold them back a year. Because their feelings might get hurt? That’s ridiculous. I thought the whole goal here is to make sure our children learn. It seems like the administration is not really enthusiastic about it.”
Barkdoll said, “I think there’s scenarios here that a district could really find itself in a bind. If at the end of this week, even if a very small percentage of families elect to do this, suddenly you have potential issues of would you need to add another classroom at the elementary level? Would there have to be other accommodations for special classes? There’s all sorts of things tied to this and if I’m a school district I totally understand. I wouldn’t be wild about this either, for budget reasons and for staffing reasons, but the reality is this is now the law. The General Assembly unanimously passed it. Governor Wolf has signed it. The public needs to know they have the right to do this, but they only have until the end of Thursday if they’re going to do it.”