Our education system is the way that we collectively pitch in to prepare of our children and young people for a productive work life and to contribute to society. We prepare them, so that we can all benefit from their creativity, productivity, and maximized potential. But educating children takes a well-trained and committed workforce, financial resources, parental and community engagement, and children that are ready for schooling.
Additionally, our higher education system, including universities, community colleges, and technical schools prepare or retrain individuals for the next stage in their lives. We must make higher education accessible, affordable, and useful for people that want to take advantage of the great resources that the Commonwealth has to offer.
To achieve this, we must:
Make a Commitment to Fund Schools at the State Level
Pennsylvania’s constitution requires that, “The General Assembly shall provide for the maintenance and support of a thorough and efficient system of public education to serve the needs of the Commonwealth.” This this is not a requirement that the Legislature is fulfilling. While the Senate Democrats have prioritized education funding and made great strides at increases, we still have not achieved the goal of funding public education by 50% at the state level. We must do more.
Ensure that Children are Prepared for School
Early childhood education and pre-K, after school and tutoring programs, nutrition and health supports, among other social services provide an important source of assistance to make sure that children are not just in the classroom, but ready to learn.
Make Higher Ed Accessible
Higher Education has become integral in today’s high-tech, internationally competitive workplace. However, Pennsylvania now has the 2nd highest student tuition debt among the states, indicating a system that is costly and prohibitive to enter. We must to more to make our community colleges and state system of higher education more affordable so that everyone that wants to continue their education past high school has an opportunity to do so.
Prevent High-stakes Graduation Assessments and Reform our Testing System
Assessments are a necessary part of the education system to track proficiency and growth of students, teachers, and schools. But testing has taken on a life of its own and become a source of distraction and stress for students and teachers and syphoning off valuable time in the classroom. We must come up with a system of testing that captures the information necessary to provide the data we need while not undermining the quality of education our children receive.
Reform Charter Schools
Charter and cyber charter schools are now an integral and embedded part of our state and local education system. However, we can improve their performance, hold them more accountable educationally and financially, and prevent them from undermining our traditional public schools. We must address comprehensive charter school reform to address all three of these goals.
Provide Assistance to Struggling Schools
Pennsylvania has school districts and buildings that are in trouble and the only source of immediate assistance has to come from the State. Whether it’s financial, educational, or both, we must create diagnostic programs to identity problems within schools and customize solutions to improve administrative, instructional, and learning performance.
Retain Highly Skilled and Experienced Educators
Teachers are the backbone of our education system. For children, teachers are their earliest mentors, provide essential life tools throughout the education experience, and prepare them for the next stages in life. We must protect their profession from vicious and unfair ideological attacks and provide them with safe working conditions, reasonable compensation and benefits, and ongoing professional development opportunities so that they remain on the cutting edge of their practice.
Expand Career and Technical Training
Our Members at Work
BETHLEHEM, October 5, 2018 – State Sen. Lisa Boscola today announced a total of $130,902 in state grants to improve safety and security in area schools. “These grant dollars will enable schools to fund safety programs, hire security personnel and purchase...read more
HARRISBURG, October 5, 2018- The Pennsylvania Department of Education’s Office for Safe Schools has selected Kutztown Area School District to receive $10,190 for programming to address school violence, State Sen. Judy Schwank (D-Berks) announced. Specifically, the...read more
MCKEESPORT, October 4, 2018 – State Sen. Jim Brewster (D-Allegheny/Westmoreland) today announced a total of $154,000 in state grants to improve safety and security in local schools. “This funding will help establish safety programs, hire additional security personnel...read more
SCRANTON, October 4, 2018 – State Sen. John Blake (D-Lackawanna/Luzerne/Monroe) today announced that five school districts in the 22nd Senatorial District have been awarded over $150,000 in Safe Schools Targeted Grants. The local grant funding is part of an $8.4...read more
WEST CHESTER, October 4, 2018 – State Senator Andy Dinniman announced today that several Chester County school districts will receive nearly $140,000 in state funding to prevent violence in schools and support school resource officers (SROs) and school police officers...read more
HARRISBURG-September 25, 2018 – The Senate Education Committee unanimously approved state Senator Andy Dinniman’s resolution calling for a study on the benefits and impacts of instituting later start times to the school day in secondary schools. “We know that our...read more
SCRANTON, September 12, 2018 – State Sen. John Blake (D-Lackawanna/Luzerne/Monroe) today encouraged local school districts to apply for funding through a new state grant program designed to improve school safety. The new School Safety and Security Grant Program, which...read more
Senator Hughes and Senator Browne Introduce Proposal to Help Victims of Trauma in State’s Primary Schools
Philadelphia, August 30, 2018 – Senator Vincent Hughes (D-Philadelphia/Montgomery) and Senator Pat Browne (R-Lehigh) introduced a proposal that would establish programs to help primary school students who were victims of trauma. The trauma-informed system of education...read more
Harrisburg – July 23, 2018 – A longtime advocate of school safety upgrades, state Sen. Jim Brewster (D-Allegheny/Westmoreland) said today that he was appointed to the new School Safety and Security Committee. The 17-member commission was created in late June with the...read more
Philadelphia – June 29, 2018 – Efforts to eradicate lead, asbestos and mold from Philadelphia schools were bolstered today by the announcement of more than $15 million in state and local funds, according to state Sen. Art Haywood (D-Philadelphia/Montgomery). Gov. Tom...read more
PHILADELPHIA – The $15.6 million investment to help eliminate threats from lead, asbestos and mold in Philadelphia schools announced today by Gov. Tom Wolf, state Sen. Vincent J. Hughes (D-Philadelphia), other local and state elected officials, and school district...read more
Philadelphia - June 26, 2018 - A program that would create $100 savings accounts for Pennsylvania newborns was signed into law Friday and praised by State Senator Vincent Hughes. Senator Hughes was the prime co-sponsor to Senate Bill 1130, which addressed the Keystone...read more
Philadelphia, PA – June 7, 2018 Community leaders, parents, clergy, educators and environmental organizations joined Senator Art Haywood (D-Montgomery/Philadelphia) at a news conference today to celebrate summer reading and the installment of community bookstands in...read more
Senator Hughes, Representatives Roebuck and Harris Introduce Legislation Pushing for Free and Affordable College
HARRISBURG – June 6, 2018 – Senator Vincent J. Hughes (D-Philadelphia/Montgomery), Representative James Roebuck (D-Philadelphia), and Representative Jordan Harris (D-Philadelphia) introduced legislation for the Pennsylvania Promise initiative, a program that would...read more
WEST CHESTER (June 4, 2018) – State Senator Andy Dinniman today welcomed news that Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene DePasquale will consider questions regarding the transparency of state contracts related to standardized testing and the Keystone Exams....read more
Harrisburg, May 24, 2018 – State Sen. Wayne Fontana (D-Allegheny) today said he is pleased with the PHEAA (Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency) board decision to use additional reserve funds to maintain grants to students at the current amounts. Without...read more
WEST CHESTER – April 3, 2018 – State Senator Andy Dinniman will discuss school and student safety issues with representatives from the Chester County Student Forum at a special meeting on Thursday, April 5 from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. at the Chester County Intermediate Unit...read more
Harrisburg – March 27, 2018 – Hundreds of millions of dollars per year are committed to school construction and rehabilitation projects in Pennsylvania; and if Sen. Jim Brewster’s (D-Allegheny/Westmoreland) new legislation is approved, there would be no state...read more
Dinniman: Immaculata, WCU to Get Nearly $56K in Total State Funding to Prevent and Fight Sexual Assault on Campus
WEST CHESTER (March 13, 2018) – State Senator Andy Dinniman announced today that two universities in Chester County – Immaculata University and West Chester University – will receive nearly $56,000 in total state grant funding to prevent and combat sexual on campus....read more
McKeesport – March 9, 2018 – In the wake of the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, where 17 students died, state Sen. Jim Brewster (D-Allegheny/Westmoreland) today proposed placing an armed security guard at all school buildings that conduct classroom instruction....read more