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In the aftermath of World War I, and with one-room schools still in existence, two organizations made an unlikely pairing to promote public support for education.

Alarmed that 25 percent of the country’s WWI draftees were illiterate, the NEA and the American Legion passed resolutions at their respective conventions in 1919 advocating for a national effort to raise public awareness about the importance of education. Two years later, American Education Week was born.

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.

Educator evaluation reform update

Overhauling our evaluation system in Pennsylvania remains a top priority for PSEA. And we’re happy to report we’re making excellent progress. In June, the Senate passed a game-changing bill by a huge majority that will make important strides toward shifting the emphasis away from standardized testing and toward classroom observation.

As that bill’s fate is set to be decided in the House later this month, positive buzz in the press and in the Capitol is building. The bill’s sponsor, Sen. Ryan Aument, recently spoke with the LNP Editorial Board about going back to the drawing board to correct the reform he authored in 2012. Check it out here.

Meet Maria Bennett, the 2019 ESP of the Year!

There’s no better time than American Education Week to celebrate our hardworking ESP members. And none more deserving of recognition than Maria Bennett, the 2019 Dolores McCracken PSEA Education Support Professional of the Year.

“I share this award with all my ESPs,” said Bennett, an instructional assistant for the New Hope-Solebury School District and proud PSEA member since 2005. “All the people that work with children. That dedicate their time. Teachers. Everybody. All educators. They are so important, and they do so much. I have learned so much from every one of them.”

In addition to serving as an instructional assistant for the last 14 years, Bennett has coached soccer, volleyball, and basketball, and serves as a 10th-grade student advisor. She’s also president of the New Hope-Solebury Education Support Professionals Association.

Three years ago, Bennett helped launch an initiative at the annual PSEA Education Support Professionals House of Delegates in which members donate books, board games, art supplies, healthy snacks, and personal items to benefit students in a struggling school district.

Career & Tech Students 'Feel the Heat'

Under the direction of their teacher, Mike Dortenzo, the students conducted “live burns” last spring at nearby Westmoreland County Community College’s public safety training facility. That means they got the unique opportunity to enter a burning building wearing 50 pounds of gear and “knock down” a real fire!

PSEA Vice President Aaron Chapin Rallies to Raise the Minimum Wage

PSEA Vice President Aaron Chapin joined a host of lawmakers, community members, and activists from across the state at a capitol rally on September 17 to demand an increase in the state's minimum wage, which has been stuck at $7.25 since 2009.  The event, hosted by We The People Campaign, was an opportunity to emphasize the importance of this initiative to PSEA members, their families, and to all of Pennsylvania.
PSEA continues to work closely with Gov. Wolf and other lawmakers on this important issue, which directly affects a number of support professionals in our public schools. It remains a top priority for our organization going into this new legislative session.

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.


$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.’’

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

“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.”

Nancy Noonan, PSEA president from 1983-1987, passes away

Noonan was a committed educator and a union stalwart. She became active in her local association when she discovered just how difficult it was to secure fair salaries for educators before Act 195 was enacted. Nancy quickly became a local and region leader, and soon after became PSEA vice president and president.

When she was honored a number of years ago during the PSEA Past President’s luncheon, Noonan said:

“No matter how good you are, you cannot survive by yourself. And it’s wonderful to know that you have an organization – PSEA – to assist you.”

Noonan also served as executive director of the Louisiana Association of Educators and as a PSEA UniServ representative.

Find a video of Noonan in PSEA’s Hall of Presidents here

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.

 Statewide Events   Regional Events 

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Issues & Action