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 – 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
Harrisburg – March 7, 2018 — Senate Democratic Appropriations Chair Vincent J. Hughes (D-Philadelphia/Montgomery) issued the following statement concerning today’s Commonwealth Court hearing on fair funding for Pennsylvania’s public schools. “We are not doing enough...read more
HARRISBURG (March 2, 2018) – State Senator Andrew Dinniman and members of the Senate Education Committee held a public hearing on school and student safety this morning. “While we may focus in on the issue of gun control or mental health, we must understand that there...read more
DOWNINGTOWN (February 26, 2018) – State Senator Andrew Dinniman this morning welcomed students to the Varsity Semifinals of the 34th Annual Chester County Academic Competition at the Chester County Intermediate Unit in Downingtown. “Today is a day where our students...read more
HARRISBURG (February 1, 2018) – State Senator Andy Dinniman this week welcomed students from Conestoga High School’s New Voters Club to the Pennsylvania State Capitol to get a behind-the-scenes look at how state government works. Dinniman offered the group of about 30...read more
HARRISBURG, February 6, 2018 – State Sen. John Blake (D-Lackawanna/Luzerne/Monroe) today released the following statement regarding Governor Tom Wolf’s proposed $32.987 billion state budget: “I applaud Governor Wolf for his continued dedication and investment in the...read more
Harrisburg, PA – January 23, 2018 – Senator Vincent Hughes spoke today in support of affordable higher education for Pennsylvanians. Standing with advocates and researches from the Association of State College & University Faculty, Keystone Research Center, and...read more
Harrisburg – December 12, 2017 – State Sen. Jim Brewster (D-Allegheny/Westmoreland), Gov. Tom Wolf, and Education Secretary Pedro Rivera helped recognize the achievement of the students from the Kiski Area High School as they increased their qualifying scores by 185...read more
Philadelphia – November 16, 2017 – State Sen. Vincent J. Hughes (D-Philadelphia) issued the following statement concerning the scheduled vote to disband the School Reform Commission (SRC) and return control of the schools to local officials. Hughes was slated to...read more