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 – 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
NORTH WALES - April 11, 2019 — Senator Maria Collett (D-Bucks/Montgomery) has announced nearly $330,000 in Teacher in the Workplace grants supporting seven educational programs in Montgomery County. Pennsylvania’s Teacher in the Workplace (TIW) program connects K-12...read more
PHILADELPHIA – April 2, 2019 – Sen. Anthony H. Williams called on the Philadelphia School Board to reconsider their vote to mandate metal detectors in all Philadelphia schools. “The Board had an opportunity to thoroughly review their use and find a better way to...read more
Senator Hughes Stands with Reps. Harris, Roebuck; Hundreds of PASSHE Students in Call for Free College through the Pennsylvania Promise Initiative
HARRISBURG- March 27, 2019 - Hundreds of Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education Students rallied with Senator Vincent Hughes (D-Philadelphia/Montgomery), Representative Jordan Harris (D-Philadelphia), Representative James Roebuck (D-Philadelphia), and other...read more
HARRISBURG -March 26, 2019 – Democratic lawmakers today held a joint Senate-House hearing in Harrisburg on legislation aimed at making college more affordable. The joint state Senate-House Democratic Policy Committee hearing focused on the proposed “Pennsylvania...read more
HARRISBURG - March 25, 2019 - Renewing his commitment to addressing growing student debt and soaring college tuition costs, Senator Vincent Hughes (D-Philadelphia/Montgomery) will introduce a resolution declaring March 25-29 “Higher Education Affordability Week.” Sen....read more
The state Senate and House Democratic Policy committees will hold a joint public hearing next Tuesday on college affordability. The hearing is scheduled for Tuesday, March 26 at 9:30 a.m. in the House Democratic Caucus Room, 418 Main Capitol, Harrisburg. The hearing...read more
HARRISBURG – March 20, 2019 – A bold and innovative plan to help students and their families save thousands of dollars, pay down crushing student loan debt and better deal with the high cost of borrowing was unveiled by Sens. Vincent J. Hughes...read more
HARRISBURG - March 19, 2019 - State Senators Vincent J. Hughes (D-Philadelphia/Montgomery), Lindsey Williams (D-Allegheny) and Katie Muth (D-Montgomery/Chester) will host a media availability on Wednesday, March 20 at 10 a.m. in Room 545 of the Main Capitol to...read more
HARRISBURG - March 19, 2019 - Sen. Vincent Hughes (D-Philadelphia/Montgomery) released the following statement on the passing of Senate Bill 89 out of the Senate Education Committee: I’d like to thank the Senate Education Committee members for voting SB 89 out...read more
HARRISBURG – March 13, 2019 – A new plan to use revenue generated from an energy extraction tax to provide school funding, safety investments and environmental protection initiatives will soon be introduced by state Sen. Jim Brewster (D-Allegheny/Westmoreland). “The...read more
Senator L. Williams Prime Sponsor of Landmark Education Program to Support PA National Guard Member Families
HARRISBURG - February 27, 2019 - Senator Lindsey M. Williams, along with Governor Tom Wolf, Major General Tony Carrelli, Adjutant General of Pennsylvania, Senator Mike Regan, Representative Stephen Barrar, and Representative Chris Sainato announced legislation...read more
PITTSBURGH, February 26, 2019 --- Senator Lindsey M. Williams and Representative Ed Gainey expressed disappointment that the Corbet-appointed Charter Appeal Board overruled the Pittsburgh Public School Board’s unanimous decision to deny a charter to Catalyst Academy...read more
COATESVILLE - February 14, 2019 – State Senator Andy Dinniman recently visited the Chester County Opportunities Industrialization Center’s (OIC) new home in Coatesville to discuss ways to improve access to high school equivalency credentials for those who may not...read more
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