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Meet Joseph Welch, the 2020 PA Teacher of the Year

Congratulations to Joseph Welch, who has been named the 2020 Pennsylvania Teacher of the Year! Welch, who teaches American History at North Hills Middle School, in in Allegheny County, beat out 11 other finalists for this year’s title.

Nominations for the Teacher of the Year can come from students, parents, peers, or any member of the community who wants to recognize a PA teacher for his or her extraordinary contribution to education in our state.

As Pennsylvania’s Teacher of the Year, Welch will travel the state, meet, and collaborate with other educators, and will represent the commonwealth in next year’s National Teacher of the Year competition.

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.

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.

 Statewide Events   Regional Events 

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.

#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.’’

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.”

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.

In our Locals

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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