A state senator is objecting the the Pennsylvania Department of Education's willingness to waive the required 180 day school year because of this winter's heavy snows.
The department is continuing to accept and review applications from school districts to waive the 180 class day requirement. Department spokeswoman Leah Harris says so far 48 districts have asked for waivers and 8 have been been approved: in southwestern Pennsylvania: Cornell, Deer Lakes, East Allegheny, Elizabeth Forward, Penn Trafford, Canon-McMillan and Brownsville area; as well as the Philadelphia School District.
But Senator Andy Dinniman, the Democratic Chair of the Education Committee, says Pennsylvania spends $25 billion a year in federal, state and local tax money on education so there is no reason to shorten the school year....."Education is important. We talk about standards. We're paying for 180 days. Students should be there, teachers should be there, learning should take place."
The Chester County lawmaker says this is particularly appropriate when 44% of students cannot pass the 11th grade state achievement test in math and 35% cannot pass the test in reading.
Dinniman says the business community says too many students cannot meet minimal literacy requirements necessary to hire them. The senator says more economically advanced nations have 200 or more days in their school year and Pennsylvania cannot compete with them by shaving days off the calendar because of bad weather.
Dinniman has unveiled legislation to clarify and strengthen the school code's 180-day school year requirement.