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 - June 18, 2019 -- The Senate Majority Policy Committee and Senate Democratic Policy Committee yesterday jointly held a public workshop to discuss possible school district consolidation. “With 500 school districts in Pennsylvania this issue must be reviewed...read more
SCRANTON, June 6, 2019 – State Sen. John Blake (D-Lackawanna/Luzerne/Monroe) and state Rep. Kyle Mullins (D-112) today announced a $100,000 grant to repair the historical roof at Angeli Hall on the campus of Lackawanna College. The grant funding was awarded...read more
HARRISBURG - June 5, 2019 - The Military Family Education Program (MFEP), or “Pennsylvania G.I. Bill”, passed unanimously out of the Senate today. The Bill has now been referred to the House of Representatives for consideration. The House overwhelmingly passed a...read more
MCKEESPORT – June 5, 2019 – Sen. Jim Brewster (D-Allegheny/Westmoreland) announced that several local schools will receive funding through the 21st Century Community Learning Center (CCLC) program. “Enriching and enhancing the education of our students is a priority...read more
ROYERSFORD – June 4, 2019 – Sen. Katie Muth (D-Berks, Chester, Montgomery) announced that Coatesville Area School District is a grantee of a $400,000 21st Century Community Learning Center (CCLC) grant. Kings Highway Elementary, a school within the Coatesville School...read more
ROYERSFORD – May 22, 2019 – Sen. Katie Muth (D-Berks, Chester, Montgomery) announced that the Daniel Boone School District has been awarded state funding through the Safe Schools Targeted Grants program. “Keeping our students and school staff members safe is a...read more
NORTH WALES - May 17, 2019 — Senator Maria Collett has announced today that Upper Moreland Township School District has been awarded $4,204 to expand their school breakfast programming. The grant is a part of Governor Tom Wolf’s School Breakfast Initiative, funded by...read more
ROYERSFORD - May 16, 2019 – Senator Katie Muth (D-Berks, Chester, Montgomery) has announced that nearly $60,000 in School Breakfast Initiative Grants have been awarded to Coatesville, Owen J. Roberts, Perkiomen Valley and Pottsgrove schools. “I am grateful for the...read more
Senator Lindsey M. Williams Announces More Than $15,000 in Mini-Grant Funding for School Breakfast Programs
PITTSBURGH - May 16, 2019 - Senator Lindsey M. Williams announced today that Deer Lakes School District and Shaler Area School District have been awarded mini-grants from Governor Wolf’s School Breakfast Initiative. These grants can be used by schools to start or...read more
PITTSBURGH, May 14, 2019 --- Today, Senator Lindsey M. Williams announced the introduction of Senate Bill 642, which will amend the Public School Code to lower the compulsory enrollment age from eight to six. This bill will also raise the drop out age from seventeen...read more
HARRISBURG -May 8, 2019 – The Senate approved bipartisan legislation today that would help generate more interest in Pennsylvania’s career and technical education programs. Senate Bill 89, sponsored by Senators Vince Hughes (D-Philadelphia) and Ryan P. Aument...read more
HARRISBURG - May 7, 2019 – Sen. Jim Brewster (D-Allegheny/Westmoreland) will host his annual Student Government Seminar to educate students on the functions of state government on Thursday, May 9, at Penn State Greater Allegheny. The event includes three educational...read more
NORTH WALES - May 1, 2019 — Senator Maria Collett has announced $616,000 in school safety and security grants awarded by Pennsylvania’s School Safety and Security Committee. The grant recipients in the 12th Senatorial district include: Bucks County Intermediate Unit...read more
HARRISBURG - April 30, 2019 - Senate Bill 589, the Military Family Education Program (MFEP), or “Pennsylvania G.I. Bill” was unanimously voted out of the Senate Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee today. A committee vote is expected on the House...read more
Senator Costa Announces $350,000 in Anti-Violence Grant for Woodland Hills School District & Communities
HARRISBURG - April 30, 2019 - Senate Democratic Leader Jay Costa, Jr. announced today $350,000 in state grant funding in a violence prevention initiative for the Woodland Hills School District communities in conjunction with the Pittsburgh Action Against Rape. “Last...read more
Senator Iovino Announces $1 Million in Local School Safety and $1.2 Million in Community Violence Grants
HARRISBURG - April 30, 2019 - Senator Pam Iovino today announced grants for Western Pennsylvania to address school safety and community violence prevention. “We need to do everything in our power at the state level to make sure that our students are safe in their...read more
HARRISBURG- April 30, 2019 - Sen. Judy Schwank (D-Berks) today announced the following state funding for school and community safety in the 11th Senate District, which Schwank represents: Berks Career and Technical Center, $367,626; Brandywine Heights Area School...read more
Sens. Williams and Regan and Reps. Sainato and Barrar to Introduce the Military Family Education Program
HARRISBURG - April 29, 2019 --- Senator Lindsey M. Williams will join Senator Mike Regan (R-Cumberland/York), Representative Chris Sainato (D-Lawrence), and Representative Steve Barrar (R-Chester/Delaware) to announce the introduction of the Military Family Education...read more
WEST CHESTER - April 23, 2019 – State Senator Andy Dinniman announced today that he is introducing legislation to require consent education in the school curriculum. Dinniman, who serves as minority chair of the Senate Education Committee, said the curriculum would...read more
HARRISBURG – April 12, 2019 -- Sen. Katie Muth (D-Berks, Chester, Montgomery) applauded the approval of grants awarded to strengthen collaboration between local businesses and educators to help students prepare to enter the workforce. “The approval of these grants is...read more