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
HARRISBURG - February 7, 2019 – Support from Governor Tom Wolf may help push the legislature to lower the age at which Pennsylvania children must enroll in school – a move that is long overdue – state Senator Andy Dinniman said this week. While most school...read more
HARRISBURG— January 30, 2019 — Renewing their call for free college for all Pennsylvanians, Senator Vincent Hughes, (D-Philadelphia/Montgomery), Rep. Jordan Harris (D-Philadelphia), Rep. James Roebuck (D-Philadelphia) and APSCUF President Ken Mash announced the next...read more
HARRISBURG - January 22, 2019 - Senator Lindsey Williams joined education advocates and representatives of One Pennsylvania, Education Rights Network, Pennsylvania Interface Impact Network, and the Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers today to urge the Pennsylvania...read more
BUCKS COUNTY, January 18, 2019 – State Senator Steve Santarsiero, minority chair of the senate Communications and Technology committee, announced the award of computer science grant funding for Council Rock, Central Bucks, and Pennridge school districts. Each...read more
SCRANTON, January 17, 2019 – State Senator John Blake (D- Lackawanna/Luzerne/Monroe) today announced that four school districts and one charter school in the 22nd Senatorial District have received $175,000 in targeted grants through the PAsmart Initiative. The grant...read more
LOWER GWYNEDD, January 17, 2019- State Senator Maria Collett (D-12 Bucks/Montgomery) announced today that schools throughout her senatorial district have received a total of $525,000 in PAsmart Grants through the Pennsylvania Department of Education. “The smartest...read more
HARRISBURG, January 17, 2019 – Education grants dedicated to the implementation and improvement of computer science programs and career-readiness have been awarded to schools in Allegheny and Westmoreland counties, said Sen. Jim Brewster (D-Allegheny/Westmoreland)....read more
Sen. Blake, Rep. Flynn & Rep. Mullins Discuss Financial Recovery Status Declaration for Scranton School District
HARRISBURG, January 16, 2019 – State Sen. John Blake (D-Lackawanna/Luzerne/Monroe) and State Representatives Marty Flynn and Kyle Mullins today announced that the Scranton School District has been issued a declaration of Financial Recovery Status by the Pennsylvania...read more
WEST CHESTER - January 14, 2019 – State Senator Andy Dinniman encouraged prospective college students who may be applying for financial aid this year to consider the new PA Forward Student Loan Program. The PA Forward State Grant Program provides low-cost,...read more
PHILADELPHIA, January 10, 2019 —Today, State Senators Art Haywood (D-Philadelphia/Montgomery) and Vincent Hughes (D-Philadelphia/Montgomery) announced the award of grant funding from the Department of Labor and Industry for Business Education Partnerships across their...read more
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,...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