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 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
PHILADELPHIA, November 2, 2017 — State Sen. Vincent Hughes (D-Philadelphia) issued the following statement on Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney’s announcement that he will seek to end state oversight of the School District of Philadelphia: "I applaud Mayor's Kenney...read more
HARRISBURG, September 6, 2017 — As part of ongoing efforts to prevent sexual violence on college campuses, state Sen. Vincent Hughes has introduced legislation that would expand Pennsylvania's Office of Safe Schools to cover postsecondary institutions. This expansion,...read more
Harrisburg – May 24, 2017 – State Sens. Jim Brewster (D-Allegheny/Westmoreland) and Vincent J. Hughes (D-Philadelphia/Montgomery) reacted to today’s release of the Legislative Budget and Finance Committee report, which examined the financial impact of charter schools...read more
Harrisburg, April 21, 2017 — Efforts to educate local students about environmental issues will be bolstered by more than $50,000 in state Environmental Education Grant funding, Jay Costa (D-Allegheny) announced today. “There is nothing more important than providing...read more
Nanticoke, April 21, 2017 – State Senator John T. Yudichak (Luzerne/Carbon) announced today that the Departmentof Environmental Protection (“DEP”) awarded two grants—one each in Carbon and Luzerne counties— through the Environmental Education Grant Program. In total,...read more