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Report Details Benefits of Boosting Student Achievement
A recent article in the Wall Street Journal detailed the economic benefits of improving K-12 education. Recent evidence suggests that raising student performance and narrowing the skills gap could result in significant economic growth and help reduce income disparities, giving more young people an opportunity for upward mobility.
It is important to note that improvements in education must be balanced with the ability of taxpayers to fund the education system. In the current economic climate, we cannot expect state and local taxpayers to invest billions in new dollars for schools without taking the necessary steps to reduce school district costs and demand accountability. Simply throwing money at the problem without any sort of reform is unlikely to result in a suitable solution.
Part of this goal can be accomplished by protecting excellent teachers and identifying areas for potential improvement. When I served in the House of Representatives, one of my highest priorities was working with educators, administrators, school districts, and other education experts to develop a teacher evaluation system that offers educators accurate and constructive feedback on their job performance. The results of this system have been extremely encouraging, as more than 98 percent of educators were recently rated satisfactory or better.
I also introduced legislation in March that would protect our best and brightest educators by ensuring any potential layoffs by school districts are decided based on teacher performance instead of seniority. Pennsylvania is one of only 11 states that still mandate layoff decisions based solely on seniority. My bill would end this narrow-minded approach and give all students the chance to learn with the very best teachers.
In addition, I supported passage of legislation in June that would give schools with the lowest academic performance additional resources to boost student achievement. The Educational Opportunity and Accountability Act would allow districts to plan and adopt turnaround models for school improvement or contract with outside educational providers to deliver services.
Pension reform must be part of the equation as well. The pension system has grown increasingly unaffordable for taxpayers over the past several years, and the staggering increases in required payments to these systems has prevented the state from investing more money while shouldering homeowners with higher property taxes. Although Governor Wolf dismissed a plan approved by legislators to address the pension crisis, I am hopeful that we can work together to create meaningful reforms to the pension system to reduce long-term costs to taxpayers.
I recently joined Rep. Mindy Fee and LandStudies founder Mark Gutshall for a tour of Lancaster County healthy watershed projects. These projects have resulted in increased opportunities for economic development, significant sediment and nutrient load reductions, aquifer recharge enhancement, long-term stream stability, wildlife habitat improvement, and increased recreational opportunities.
Child Protection Seminar Scheduled for September 6
Over the past two years, I have supported a strong legislative effort to improve state laws designed to protect young people. Although these new laws will go a long way toward preventing children from falling victim to neglect and abuse, the influx of new responsibilities for caregivers have created some confusion for many school employees and volunteers who work with children.
The new child protection laws will only be successful in safeguarding young people if all adults who care for children are aware of their responsibilities and can comply with the new requirements.
To help address these and other questions pertaining to child protection laws, the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services will host a free seminar on September 6 at 6:30 p.m. at Manheim Brethren in Christ Church. I encourage anyone who is responsible for the welfare of children to make plans to attend this informative seminar.
An RSVP is requested, but not required. To RSVP, contact my Lititz office at (717) 627-0036.
Energy Efficiency Grants for Small Business Now Available
Small businesses looking for help in implementing projects to trim energy costs and reduce pollution can now apply for state grants.
The Small Business Advantage Grant Program through the state Department of Environmental Protection provides a 50 percent matching grant of up to $9,500 toward energy efficiency improvements on systems such as lighting, heating, cooling, as well as building insulation projects.
Applications and more information are available by visiting
www.dep.state.pa.us and clicking on
the “Small Business Advantage Grant” button.
Senate Box 203036