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When it became available in 2001, the Google Earth app became a big hit – letting users zoom in from outer space to where they live.

But Debra Hervitz, a retired reading specialist and elementary teacher in the Harrisburg School District, Dauphin County, had already been there and done that with her students.

Hervitz started using a similar concept in 1998 to teach young students about their local geography. Now, she has put the teaching method into a children’s book, “Where I Live, A first geography book for young children in the State of Pennsylvania,’’ that uses the Google Earth template. 

Brain Breaks

A brain break can be any activity that gives students a chance to take a step back from the academic grind and give their brains a much-needed stimulus boost.

The science behind this concept is sound, and the importance of taking regular periods of rest between bouts of intense focus has been well-understood among education professionals for some time. In fact, it used to be built into each school day in the form of recess and physical education. Sadly, these critical activities are gradually being phased out in favor of more classroom time.

Public Education: State Budget Scorecard

A bi-partisan state budget plan that includes major funding increases for basic education as well as other key education bills made their way through the House and Senate this week to land on Gov. Wolf’s desk.

PSEA members played a key role in getting many of these proposals approved by the General Assembly. When PSEA members speak out, our elected officials listen.

Budget Plan Update

Rich Askey, president of the Pennsylvania State Education Association, commended Gov. Tom Wolf and lawmakers for continuing to make public education a top priority in the 2019-20 state budget and for addressing key education policies, including important school safety measures.

“Investing in our public schools is a top priority for all Pennsylvanians, and this budget reflects that,” Askey said. “The budget includes bigger increases for basic and special education than we saw in the previous two budgets. This demonstrates that lawmakers and the governor want public schools to remain a strong foundation of our commonwealth.”

Budget Breakdown

Basic education. 

$160 million increase.

Special education.                

$50 million increase.

School Safety grants.

$60 million (Level funded).

Pre-K Counts.

$25 million increase.

Head Start

$5 million increase.
Early intervention.   $15 million increase.
Career and technical education. 

$7 million increase.

Career and Tech equipment grants.

$3 million increase.

Community Colleges.

$4.7 million increase.

PASSHE

$9 million increase.

School Safety

In addition to providing continued school safety grant funding in the budget, policymakers adopted two important school safety initiatives in a separate school code bill.

  • Threat assessment teams
  • Trauma-informed learning

In new poll, large majorities of PA voters view public schools, teachers favorably

Nearly two-thirds of registered Pennsylvania voters expressed satisfaction with the public schools in their communities, and more than 7 in 10 have positive impressions of teachers, according to a poll conducted by Terry Madonna Opinion Research for PSEA and other organizations.

Poll respondents were also more likely to support raising the state’s minimum teacher salary after hearing that Pennsylvania has licensed far fewer new teachers annually in recent years and that raising the minimum salary will allow public schools to recruit and retain the teachers Pennsylvania needs.

PSEA Welcomes Legislation Reforming PA's Educator Evaluation System

[Update: A bill to reform the current system was passed by the PA state Senate June 24. Now it's on to the PA state House.]

“PSEA supports meaningful educator evaluations because every student in Pennsylvania deserves to have a high-quality educator in the classroom,” PSEA President, Rich Askey said. “Unfortunately, our current evaluation system is not working the way it should."

#RedForEd Lobby Day at the Capitol

More than 70 PSEA members joined a Red for Ed press conference on June 18 as part of PSEA Lobby Days.

Members spoke out about the need for school funding increases, enhanced school safety measures, increases in the state minimum teacher salary and minimum wage, and improved student-to-professional ratios for school nurses, counselors, psychologists, and social workers.

“I was proud to stand with so many PSEA members and raise our voices to protect public schools and to support every student in this great commonwealth,” said PSEA President Rich Askey. “That’s why we wore our ‘Red for Ed,’ and that’s why we’re going to keep wearing it as we advocate for what our schools, students, educators, and support professionals need.”

Aaron Chapin elected PSEA vice president

PSEA's Board of Directors elected Aaron Chapin as the Association’s new vice president at a board meeting in June.

Chapin, a fifth-grade teacher in the Stroudsburg Area School District, Monroe County, succeeds Korri Brown, who passed away suddenly during the PSEA House of Delegates in May in Philadelphia. Brown was elected vice president at the House.

“Aaron is a committed PSEA leader and tireless advocate for public education and educators and support professionals across Pennsylvania,’’ said PSEA President Rich Askey. “He will be an excellent addition to our officer team.’’

Learning Lessons Update: Robotics Teams get recognition at Capitol

Several members of the Sharon School District Tiger Techs Robotics Teams and their coach, Dave Tomko, who we spotlighted in the Nov. 2017 issue of Voice Magazine, came to the state Capitol Wednesday to meet Gov. Wolf, Lt. Gov Fetterman, as well as PSEA President Rich Askey and Treasurer Jeff Ney.

Meet the 2019 Celebrating Excellence Award Winners

Adler Friend of Education: Chris and Megan Long

Educational Leader: Lise Marlowe, Cheltenham Twp. EA

Student Leader: buildOn - Lower Merion Chapter

Community Leader - Individual: Patricia Bruzzese, Hermitage EA

Local Association: Downingtown Area EA

Community Leader - Organization: The Attic Youth Center

Threat Assessment Legislation

In addition to providing continued school safety grant funding in the state budget, policymakers adopted some important school safety initiatives in a separate school code bill. One of these intiatives requires public schools to establish threat assessment teams to assess and prevent violence before it starts.

Establishing threat assessment teams was among the recommendations included in PSEA’s 2018 report “Safe Havens of Learning: PSEA policy recommendations to enhance safety in PA schools.” Read the full report at www.psea.org/schoolsafety.

“These measures will definitely make a difference in our schools,” said PSEA President Rich Askey. “We encourage lawmakers to continue the good work they’ve done on school safety initiatives and send these bills to the governor’s desk.”

PA kindergarten teachers report social-emotional benefits of high-quality pre-K programs

There is resounding support for high-quality pre-kindergarten among Pennsylvania kindergarten teachers, according to a report jointly released May 28 by the Pre-K for PA Campaign and PSEA.

The report, “Ready for Success: Kindergarten Teachers Support Investments in High-Quality Pre-K,” relied on the findings of a survey conducted of PSEA members who teach kindergarten about the role that access to high-quality, publicly funded pre-K plays in school readiness.

“Kindergarten teachers know and understand that a quality pre-K experience provides each child entering kindergarten with a growth mindset and a readiness to succeed,” said PSEA Treasurer Jeff Ney. “Their personal experiences mirror what researchers have uncovered – that children who attend high-quality pre-K have a solid foundation for learning, which promotes increased student growth and achievement.”

Two-thirds of Pennsylvanians favor raising minimum teacher salary, poll finds

Raising the minimum teacher salary will help Pennsylvania school districts attract and retain the best and brightest to teach in our schools and change the lives of students. Pennsylvanians understand that and support a proposal to raise the minimum teacher salary in Pennsylvania from $18,500 to $45,000 per year.

Two-thirds of likely voters in Pennsylvania favor the minimum salary raise and nearly half of respondents “strongly favor” the measure, according to a poll conducted by Harper Polling for PSEA.

View the Feb. 21 memo from Harper Polling.

PSEA mourns the passing of VP Korri Brown

It is with a heavy heart that we report that PSEA Vice President Korri Brown passed away on May 18 just before the PSEA House of Delegates was scheduled to meet.

Korri spent her life in service to others. She worked as a special education and emotional support teacher for nearly 20 years and served as a leader at the local, region, and statewide levels in PSEA.

PSEA supports Gov. Wolf’s minimum wage proposal

Gov. Tom Wolf unveiled a plan to raise the minimum wage to $12 an hour on July 1 and $15 by 2025. The plan calls for annual cost-of-living increases after that.

PSEA President Rich Askey voiced support for the proposal, which would lift wages for thousands of PSEA members.

“More than 1 million Pennsylvania workers are not paid what they should be,” Askey said. “Their paychecks need to better reflect the many responsibilities they take on for their employers. We applaud Gov. Wolf for making those hardworking Pennsylvanians a priority.”

Learn more about the governor’s proposal, share your story, and urge your lawmakers to support a raise for working Pennsylvanians.

 Statewide Events   Regional Events 

Part 2: A teacher’s powerful impact

Someone once said, “Don’t ever underestimate the impact that you may have on someone else’s life.”

Many of us have had a teacher, that teacher, who has had a lasting impact. Many PSEA members are or were that teacher – and they may not even know it. 

PSEA-Retired member Norma Piccone is one of them.

The November edition of Voice detailed how one of Piccone’s former students from Sabold Elementary in the Springfield School District, Delaware County, created a program to pass on the money management lessons she learned from Piccone 53 years ago to first-grade students in Texas.

Since November, the students in Texas wrote to Piccone to thank her for teaching Lazar about money management because they are now reaping the benefits of the program Lazar has started. And Piccone has written notes of encouragement to each of the students.

New school safety law provides schools $60 million in grants

Schools are getting $60 million in school safety grants thanks to a new state law that includes suggestions from PSEA members. 

Based on PSEA member feedback and other roundtable commentary from across the Commonwealth, the PA School Safety Task Force has released their full report identifying, “multiple themes, barriers and opportunities." 

 

Wolf Budget Address

In the proposed state budget Gov. Tom Wolf unveiled on Feb. 5, he continued to make public education a priority, encouraging lawmakers to pass a budget with more than $350 million in school funding increases and to set the state’s minimum teacher salary at $45,000.

PSEA President Rich Askey voiced his strong support for the governor’s investments in public education and his proposal to increase the state’s minimum teacher salary to $45,000 a year. The minimum teacher salary is set by state law at $18,500 and hasn’t changed since 1989.

Show PSEA pride. Save money. Get the PSEA Visa card

PSEA members can now get cash back and earn rewards on every purchase with the PSEA Signature Visa card.

In our Locals

Learning Lessons: VR in the classroom

Flexible teacher remakes classroom

Putting food in hungry young stomachs

Mifflin County educators aid homeless students

Five things I know for sure about teaching

Issues & Action