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Looking for education guidance due to COVID-19 closures? 

PSEA is committed to providing members with the most up-to-date information and resources on the COVID-19 emergency.

We want to help you cope with this unprecedented challenge, and we want to make sure you have the tools you need to help your students.

Covid-19 Coronavirus

Our schools and communities are all focused on preventing the spread of COVID-19 coronavirus.

Federal and state officials have created a number of resources aimed at educating the public about the virus and advising Pennsylvanians about how we can prevent it from spreading.

PSEA is focusing its work in 2020 on policy priorities intended to tackle Pennsylvania’s educator shortage, attract more people of color to teaching, and ensure that all students have access to caring educators, teaching assistants, nurses, counselors, school psychologists, and social workers.

“Students benefit from having talented professionals at school who know them and their communities well. We want to work collaboratively with policymakers from both parties to ensure the next generation of Pennsylvanians are successful. That means tackling the educator shortage head-on so that more school districts are able to attract and retain high-quality professionals to work with students at all levels.” - Rich Askey

Since our lives were upended by the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve been heartened by stories of selflessness and sacrifice happening in school districts across Pennsylvania.

A special message for PSEA members

Fear. Trauma. Anger. Sadness.

As we’ve turned on the news over the past several days, we’ve seen all of these emotions exploding onto streets across the nation. And we’ve talked about what’s happening in our living rooms, our kitchens, and maybe even with our students.

So many of our friends and neighbors are hurting, and it is only natural for all of us to ask the questions: Why? What can I do? What should I do?

All of us became educators for different reasons. But, for me, I think we all joined this noble profession because we wanted to change the world. And I believe that we do that – every, single day.

This is who we are. We are noble and purposeful.

This is what we do. We educate today’s children to become tomorrow’s leaders.

And this is how we do it. We value students’ diversity. We embrace justice. We speak up when others don’t. And we model behavior that we want everyone we come in contact with to emulate.

There is no doubt that this is a sad and scary time.

The undercurrents of racial injustice and outrage that we’re seeing suggest that our nation is perilously divided.

But we aren’t.

You see, as PSEA’s president, I remind all of you that, as part of this union, you are all significant, valued, supported, and respected.

This is, after all, what unions do. We raise our voices when they must be raised. We speak out for fairness and equity.

As educators, we may not feel like we spend our days as advocates for social justice. But we do.

Every time we lock eyes with a student who needs our help, we advocate for justice. Every time we share a quiet word after class with a child who is hurting, we advocate for justice. Every time we silence an angry word in the hallways, we advocate for justice.

For us, there is no place for hatred and violence. There is no place for any type of discrimination and prejudice. Of course, in the world as we know it today, there is far too much of all of these things. But that doesn’t have to be the world we know tomorrow. Because we can change it.

We aspire to create a world that is as just and equitable as we endeavor to be.

So, today, as we ask ourselves - Why? What can I do? What should I do? – we can start by listening. As educators, we know this is the key to learning. I know I have more to learn, and I know that there is more work to do as we strive for that more equitable and just society.

We can also serve as models of behavior and as a resource for our students as they seek to make sense of what is happening in their communities.  We can model the purpose and the justice we strive for as educators and members of a union.

I am confident that we can be a catalyst for understanding and progress, because, whether you admit it or not, you are the heroes who change the world.

Together, we can change it. And we will.

Rich Askey 
PSEA President

COVID-19 Coronavirus Pandemic

Our schools and communities are all focused on preventing the spread of COVID-19 coronavirus. 

PSEA, federal, and state officials have created a number of resources aimed at educating members and the public about the virus and advising Pennsylvanians about how we can prevent it from spreading.

Wellness Wednesdays

Many of us are experiencing personal and professional stress as we live through this tumultuous time. The good news is that there are things we can do to find calm in chaos, cultivate compassion, and engage in self-care to protect our brains and bodies from the negative effects of stress and uncertainty. Join us to learn more! Participants will receive one hour of Act 48 and/or a letter that may apply for Chapter 14 hours.

ESP and PSEA celebrate 25 years together

Twenty-five years ago, ESP members merged with PSEA, creating a united front in the fight for a stronger public education system.

For the last quarter-century, we’ve worked side-by-side to increase salaries and benefits, improve working conditions, and raise public awareness about the unique and critical role our cafeteria workers, bus drivers, maintenance workers, paraprofessionals, and other support staff play in our public schools.

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!

Gov. Wolf's Budget Proposal FY 2020-21

Gov. Tom Wolf unveiled his proposed FY 2020-21 state budget before a joint session of the Pennsylvania General Assembly on Feb. 4.

Gov. Wolf’s proposed budget makes investments in public education, takes a significant step in the right direction on charter reform, addresses health and safety issues in public school buildings, allocates funding for a new college scholarship program, and proposes a long overdue raise in the minimum educator salary.

“Gov. Wolf’s budget plan continues to make public education a top priority,” PSEA President Rich Askey said. “There is nothing more important than investing in public schools and the students who learn there. Gov. Wolf has been a leader on these issues, and PSEA looks forward to partnering with him and lawmakers to ensure our students are successful.”

Some of the governor’s proposed funding increases for public education include:

Basic education funding: $114 million increase
Special education funding:  $25 million increase
Head Start: $5 million increase
Pre-K Counts: $25 million increase
Charter school reform: $280 million in school district savings
Lead, asbestos, mold removal: $1 billion in capital funding

PSEA 2020 Priorities

PSEA’s 2020 policy priorities reflect the feedback of members who work directly with students in our public schools every day. 

“No one knows the challenges in public education better than the educators and support professionals who work with students every day. We listened to what they had to say, and now we want to engage with lawmakers to find solutions to these challenges.”
- Rich Askey

2020 Education Policy Priorities

    • Reduce student loan debt
    • Hire more educators who are people of color
    • Fund more teaching assistants
    • Invest in more school nurses and counselors
    • Raise the minimum educator salary
    • Raise the minimum wage.

Educator Evaluation Reform Plan Makes Important Strides

Legislation to overhaul the current evaluation system was approved by the General Assembly on March 25, along with legislative language aimed at addressing the COVID-19 emergency in public schools.

The bill will overhaul the current educator evaluation system, significantly reducing the impact of student performance, including standardized tests, in favor of classroom observation and practice. 

It will:

  • Reduce the impact of standardized tests and student performance components
  • Increase the focus on classroom observation and practice
  • Recognize the impact of student poverty on student performance
  • Encourage greater collaboration

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.

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.

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.’’

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.”

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.

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.

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Issues & Action