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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, a healthy educational environment, 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.

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 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.

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.

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.

Public School Building Emergency Repair and Renovation

Most Pennsylvania public school buildings were built between 1950 and 1959; there are more than 200 Pennsylvania public school buildings built before 1950. Nearly half of those old buildings house students in the School District of Philadelphia, where $170 million in facility upgrades alone are required. The systems within those buildings — heating, cooling, lighting, electrical, etc. — are broken, inefficient and in desperate need of replacement. We need to provide state funding to remediate the dangerous conditions threatening the health and safety of our children and school personnel.

Expand Career and Technical Training

CTE courses give students the academic, technical and employability skills needed for postsecondary and workplace success. A CTE background can lead to fulfilling careers that provide a great source of income. Careers in health sciences, business, marketing, information technology, STEM, among many others can be rewarding and lead to very successful vocations.

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.

Provide Our Children with the Tools to Maximize Their Potential

Strategic investments in programs that will provide our children with the resources necessary to help ensure a bright future must be a priority. Funding a statewide summer reading pilot program to ensure children read at grade level, establishing mentoring programs for kids as they transition from middle school to high school, and providing state resources for after-school programs focused on areas such as STEM education are all actions we can take to help our kids maximize their potential and lay the foundation for future success.

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 (including setting a new floor for teacher salaries at $45,000 per year), and ongoing professional development opportunities so that they remain on the cutting edge of their practice.

Our Members at Work

Senate Committee Unanimously Advances Tartaglione-Costa Legislation to Fund PA Higher Education Institutions

Philadelphia, PA – September 9, 2020 − The Pennsylvania Senate Appropriations Committee today advanced legislation sponsored by State Senator Christine Tartaglione and Senate Democratic Leader Jay Costa that would allocate $130 million in federal CARES Act funding to help higher education institutions in the Commonwealth manage financial hardships caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Dinniman Remarks on School Code Education Bill

Dinniman Remarks on School Code Education Bill

WEST CHESTER (March 25, 2020) -- State Senator Andy Dinniman, Minority chair of the Senate Education Committee, made the following statement today, March 25, on Senate Bill 751 (The School Code Bill). The first three paragraphs were presented on the Senate floor:...

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Brewster Welcomes Gov. Wolf’s Charter Reform Initiative

Brewster Welcomes Gov. Wolf’s Charter Reform Initiative

Harrisburg – August 15, 2019 – State Sen. Jim Brewster (D-Allegheny/Westmoreland) said today that he welcomed Gov. Tom Wolf’s proposal to change Pennsylvania’s charter school law and institute reforms through administrative action.   “The governor has...

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