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Smart Talk is a daily, live, interactive program featuring conversations with newsmakers and experts in a variety of fields and exploring a wide range of issues and ideas, including the economy, politics, health care, education, culture, and the environment.  Smart Talk airs live every week day at 9 a.m. on WITF’s 89.5 and 93.3.

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Host: Scott LaMar

Smart Talk: Snow days a thing of the past?; Stream buffers could be eliminated

Written by Scott LaMar, Smart Talk Host/Executive Producer | Oct 13, 2014 2:46 PM
2 snows plows at intersection in snow 600 x 340.jpg

Photo by Scott LaMar/WITF

What to look for on Smart Talk Tuesday, October 14, 2014:

Many of us over the age of 30 have fond memories of snowy winter days when we would rush from our beds and turn on the radio to hear whether our school was on the list of those that were closed due to bad weather.  If classes were indeed cancelled, there usually were two options for what came next -- either run back to our warm beds for more sleep or get all bundled up to play in the snow.  If we wanted to make a little money -- shoveling the neighbor's sidewalk -- was a third choice.

Pennsylvania school students had many opportunities to make those choices last year because the harsh winter resulted in many days of cancelled classes.  There were so many in fact that holiday vacations were cut short or days added to the school calendar. 

If a pilot program implemented by the state works, snow days could be a thing of the past.  It would include students' classes being taught on their computers or even going to school Saturdays.

Pennsylvania's Acting Secretary of Education appears on Smart Talk Tuesday to explain.

Also, legislation could be considered Tuesday that would eliminate 150 foot buffer zones between building developments and waterways in Pennsylvania.  StateImpact Pennsylvania reporter Katie Colaneri provides an update.

Also, in an exclusive interview with StateImpact Pennsylvania's Susan Phillips, Gov. Tom Corbett said he may be open to a tax on the companies that transport natural gas. 

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  • Radio Smart Talk img 2014-10-14 08:23

    Thomas Emails

    This proposal highlights a fundamental malfunction with the public school system. It simply attempts to loophole the laws / regulations in order to maintain standardization. The actual question needs to be What is a student actually learning on a stay at home snow / school day versus what would they miss? Public schools need to focus on educating and not on conforming to archaic regulations.

  • John H. img 2014-10-14 08:29

    I wonder how many schools that haven't been retrofitted with A/C have had major stadium/sports area upgrades.

  • John H. img 2014-10-14 08:36

    The Education Departmens IT agency should be able to provide information on how much time tommy spent surfing the internet while he was at "work".

  • Scott LaMar img 2014-10-14 09:12

    Eugene weighs in...
    People who want to live near waterways need to be prepared to pay for the cost of protecting them. That's why they are "valuable."

  • Scott LaMar img 2014-10-14 09:14

    Robbie writes...
    It seems to me that there is a potential for a huge disparity between the students who have access to technology and the students who would have use the "backpack" method.

    "Technology student" would be able to instantaneously reference topics on the computer to enhance the learning experience at the time they are receiving the instruction. Be "technology method"also could be desired to be interactive, including things like videos, PowerPoint presentation, and possibly even live WebCam presentations.
    Speaking of videos, students who have difficulty reading and/or comprehending the written word would be at a great disadvantage if they had to use the "backpack".
    All in all, it seems that the "backpack" would end up being the "substitute teacher" method that you spoke about earlier.

  • Scott LaMar img 2014-10-14 09:15

    Jolene adds...
    It seems to me that not having to make up snow days and doing things at home and online would just widen the gap between the kids that have, and the kids that don’t. Not everyone has the means to have a computer to do school work with, and those that don’t would be behind (again!) even more than normal. Just another way to give more of a hand up to the rich kids and not the poor kids. And the families with more money would more likely have a parent at home to make sure they are doing the work and supervise, and working parents wouldn’t be there to make sure that happens.

  • Scott LaMar img 2014-10-14 09:18

    Walt comments...
    As an avid flyfisherman, and one who frequents those class 1A trout streams, I feel strongly that eliminating this buffer zone is a serious problem. Article 1, section 27 of our State Constitution identifies the right of “The People” to clean air, pure water and the preservation of the natural, scenic, historic and esthetic value of the environment. The fracking industry has already encroached on the rights of “The People”. Many high quality streams have already been negatively impacted. We must be working to preserve these natural resources and we must work to restore those streams already impacted.

  • Scott LaMar img 2014-10-14 09:20

    Christin writes...
    The online option will not be good because it excludes students with no Internet at home. And before someone says that they can use the library.... If the schools are closed, the libraries likely are closed too.

  • Scott LaMar img 2014-10-14 09:20

    Dick says...
    The bigger viewpoint from a higher altitude, schools should be year around. Thus a missed day or days has less impact.

  • Scott LaMar img 2014-10-14 09:21

    Jeff says...
    Boooo! Freakin’ boooo! Kids need snow days….teachers and parents too :0)

  • Scott LaMar img 2014-10-14 09:24

    Matt weighs in...
    Would you please tell the secretary that Individualized Education Plans are used for many different types of students, including those with learning disabilities, various information processing issues, and students who are identified as gifted. It's highly offensive for her to state that having an IEP "means that you need occupational therapy." I don't even know what she means by that... clearly she is at least moderately ignorant of what an IEP is, basic information that every educator knows. Her statement was offensive, and she should apologize for it.