Key Issue: RESPECT

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RESPECT in 2022

RESPECT: You deserve it

Let's do this!

  • Reduce student loan debt by enacting loan forgiveness programs.

  • Attract more educators who are people of color by expanding initiatives that broaden and diversify our educator workforce, like the advanced training grant program Gov. Tom Wolf launched in 2018 that awarded $2.1 million in grants to 11 universities last year.

  • Fund more teaching assistants by finding the resources to help schools hire them.

  • Invest in more school nurses, counselors, psychologists, and social workers by improving professional-to-student ratios and providing state funding to school districts.

  • Take it to $45K by passing SB 656 or HB 1545, which will provide state funding (included in the basic education subsidy base for future years) to school districts with teachers who earn less than $45,000.

  • Raise the minimum wage so Pennsylvania is competitive with our neighbors.

RESPECT: The Key Issues

Reducing Student Loan Debt

College graduates in Pennsylvania have the second highest average student loan debt in the nation, averaging $37,061 for members of the graduating class of 2018, according to the Project on Student Debt. Staggering levels of debt present a real barrier to attracting talented young graduates to the education profession.

PSEA is making it a priority to provide loan forgiveness for educators with student debt.

Attracting more educators who are people of color to PA’s classrooms

Only 4 percent of Pennsylvania’s educators are people of color, even though 29 percent of students are, according to Research for Action. It is one of the lowest rates in the country. 

PSEA is making it a priority to find creative ways to attract people of color to the education profession. That includes building on initiatives like the grant program launched by Gov. Tom Wolf in 2018 to support innovative teacher and school leader preparation programs that expand, diversify, and strengthen the commonwealth’s educator workforce. In 2019, $2.1 million in grants were awarded to 11 universities through this initiative.

Funding more teaching assistants

Teaching assistants are incredibly important members of the classroom team. Studies have found that employing additional teaching assistants is associated with higher student achievement in math and reading. PSEA is making it a priority to put more state funding into employing more teaching assistants in our schools and classrooms.

Investing in more school nurses, counselors, psychologists, and social workers

At a time when school safety and student wellness are major priorities, Pennsylvania schools need more school nurses, counselors, school psychologists, and social workers. School nurses improve student attendance by promoting good health, preventing disease, and managing student illnesses. School counselors help students navigate challenges at school and at home — and keep students safe.

Increasing the number of school counselors, including school psychologists and social workers, was a key recommendation offered by PSEA members in 2018 after the tragedy in Parkland, Florida, as well as in Gov. Wolf’s 2018 task force on school safety. PSEA is making it a priority to increase the ratios of school nurses and counselors to students.

Increasing minimum educator salaries

Pennsylvania’s minimum teacher salary is $18,500 — and it hasn’t increased since 1989. The challenges educators face in the classroom, the time we’re required to spend keeping our skills up to date, and the diversity of our students have all increased dramatically in the past 30 years.

Educators play a crucial role in their students’ lives and shouldn’t have to scrape by to make ends meet. That’s why PSEA is again making it a priority to raise Pennsylvania’s minimum educator salary from $18,500 to $45,000 per year and provide state funding to struggling school districts to do so. 

Increasing the minimum wage

Pennsylvania’s minimum wage is $7.25 an hour and hasn’t increased since 2009. It’s lower than all of our neighboring states. PSEA is making it a priority to increase Pennsylvania’s minimum wage.

It’s all about RESPECT.

That’s why increasing minimum salaries for teachers and higher education faculty members to $45,000 and increasing the minimum wage for education support professionals are top priorities for PSEA.

In December 2018, PSEA’s House of Delegates approved a new business item creating the RESPECT initiative — Raise Educators’ Salaries to Provide Economic Certainty Today — aimed at achieving both of these goals.

Testimony on the RESPECT Initiative

Educators and support professionals are the real experts when it comes to what works in schools and classrooms. 

PSEA officers and members frequently testify at Legislative committee hearings on issues that affect public education as part of our efforts to tell lawmakers what good education policies look like - and what ideas just don't work for our schools and our students. 

PSEA President, Rich Askey, recently testified to lawmakers on recommended Chapter 49 revisions that spoke to teacher shortages and RESPECTful compensation for educators.