Cover Story: A+ Public Education Champion

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Cover Story: A+ Public Education Champion

Tom Wolf has been a terrific governor for public education.

Just ask PSEA members.

“Gov. Wolf listens to educators and supports pro-public education policies,’’ said Bill Gerhauser, a psychology and history teacher in the Council Rock School District, Bucks County. “Gov. Wolf advocates for students and stands up for PSEA members.’’

By restoring nearly $1 billion in state public school funding cuts in his first term, Wolf has helped school districts restore key programs and bring back staff to help reduce class sizes.

But his list of accomplishments in his first term went well beyond restoring the funding cuts. He has:

• Increased school funding overall.

• Enacted a fair funding formula.

• Established a school safety task force.

• Fought subcontracting.

• Reduced standardized testing.

• Invested in career and technical education.

And along the way he has consistently sought input from PSEA members to help formulate policy.

He included 15 PSEA members and staff on statewide task forces to develop the state’s plan for the Every Student Succeeds Act. The plan that emerged and was given final federal approval includes less emphasis on standardized testing and more reliance on multiple measures to assess student achievement and school quality.

Following the horrific school shooting in Parkland, Florida, last February, the governor asked PSEA for suggestions, and PSEA asked members to offer their views on addressing school safety. Nearly 1,000 members responded.

Their input was included in a report PSEA President Dolores McCracken delivered to Wolf and lawmakers. Those ideas also became part of a comprehensive school safety bill the governor signed in June to provide $60 million in school safety grants for programs designed to meet specific, local needs, and to also set up a safe and anonymous network for educators, students, and community members to report threats of violence or instances of bullying.

“Tom Wolf is a great pro-public education governor, and a great friend of working families,’’ McCracken said. “Over the past four years, he has stood up for policies that help kids, and for good salaries, benefits, and protections on the job for working people.’’

The task at hand now is to make sure he is given another four years this November to build on the outstanding work he’s done for public education during his first term.

“Gov. Wolf has made public education his number one priority,’’ said Melanie Hudson, a personal care assistant in the Upper Darby School District, Delaware County. “We need to keep him in office.’’

“Under Gov. Wolf, I have seen our teaching community being more positive, more confident, and ready to take on the future. To know that pensions have been protected under Gov. Wolf is paramount. It’s nice to know that my younger colleagues and teachers coming into the profession are going to have that security.’’

Erin Chirdon, high school learning support teacher, West Shore School District, Cumberland/York counties

Public Education: Gov. Wolf’s Number One Priority

Since his first day as governor, Tom Wolf has made public education his top priority. Gov. Wolf has restored the $1 billion in school funding cuts he inherited when he took office.

“The things we needed we are now able to get. Because of Gov. Wolf’s investments in public education, I’ve seen a difference for the students in Chester Upland. Our graduation rates have gone up, our education levels have gone up, our special education needs are being addressed, and our kids overall are being served better.’’

John Shelton, dean of students, Chester Upland School District, Chester County

Gov. Wolf Listens to You Gov.

Wolf asked PSEA members for their suggestions on making our schools safer. He listened and provided $60 million in school safety grants and other initiatives to address potential threats to our schools.

“Gov. Wolf has made a tremendous impact on education by helping to restore the nearly $1 billion in funding cuts the previous administration had made. It has made a huge difference for my students, my school, and my community. The governor also has been a huge asset in Harrisburg in helping to protect our pensions and making sure our pension system remains viable for all members of PSEA.’’

Christopher Piasecki, technology teacher, Wayne Highlands School District, Wayne County

PSEA Members going door to door

educators for funding logo

Nearly 200 PSEA members are knocking on doors across Pennsylvania, talking to their friends and neighbors about how pro-public education policies benefit Pennsylvania’s schools, students, and educators.

The Education Funding Works initiative is all about educators telling their stories and letting people know that education policy, education funding, and the elected officials who make decisions on those issues make a difference for public schools and the students who learn there.

“I remind people about how great public education is,” said PSEA member Jason Davis, Penn Trafford EA. “After I do, they’ll probably talk with two or three people, which means I helped facilitate not just one, but multiple conversations.”

PSEA members participating in the EFW program have knocked on thousands of doors, and they’re just getting started.

Pennsylvania’s educators are some of the world’s best storytellers, communicators, and connectors. And no one knows better than them the impact of school funding decisions made in Harrisburg. This summer more than 200 teachers, nurses, and support staff were trained to harness those powers in order to have 15,000 deep conversations with friends, neighbors, and members of their communities through the Education Funding Works program.

Participants in this nonpartisan, issue advocacy program went door to door to share the impact of Pennsylvania’s 2011-12 billion dollar funding cut, and how their schools have improved since the restoration of that cut. Equally important, the Education Funding Works program allowed the teachers, nurses, and support staff who took part to engage their communities, listen to their concerns, and answer any questions they had.

The Education Funding Works program was funded through a grant from the National Education Association.

** A previous version of this story incorrectly described the Education Funding Works program. The Education Funding Works program educates citizens on the benefits of pro-public education policies.  The program does not advocate that voters take any special action at the voting booth and does not recommend the election or defeat of any candidates for public office.

Gov. Wolf invests in Career Education

Gov. Wolf invests in Career Education Gov. Wolf increased career and technical education funding by $10 million.

The number of students in career and technical education programs has risen by 42 percent.  

Your Membership Matters


þ We fight for the salaries and benefits we need to support our families. 

þ We protect members when you need it most so we have the peace of mind to do our jobs.

“Whether he’s talking about testing, subcontracting, funding, or fighting for school employees like me, Gov. Wolf puts public education front and center. He’s made promises, and he’s kept them.’’

Melanie Hudson, personal care assistant, Upper Darby School District

Wagner Distorting Governor's Record

Sometimes you must consider the source. Gov. Tom Wolf doesn’t support the fair funding for-mula for Pennsylvania’s public schools and wants to cut funding for rural school districts? It’s just not true.

This is the same governor who has restored $1 billion in school funding cuts.

But that hasn’t stopped his opponent in this year’s gubernatorial race, former state senator Scott Wagner, from distorting Wolf’s positions.

Perhaps Wagner is trying to divert attention from hiso wn positions on public education and working families.

For example, Wagner:

• Voted against every bipartisan state budget agreement to invest in public schools while a state senator.

• Co-sponsored a tuition voucher bill that would siphon $500 million away from public education.

• Wants to eliminate public pensions and collective bargaining rights and force employees to pay more for health care.

And what does he think about public school educators? Here is what he told ABC 27 in Harrisburg: “We have 180,000 teachers in the state of Pennsylvania. If we laid off 10 percent of the teachers in the state of Pennsylvania, we’d never miss them.’’

The next time you hear that Tom Wolf isn’t a friend of ALL public schools, consider the source. And look at the real records.

 “In Penn Manor, because of Gov. Wolf’s funding increases, we’ve been able to hire more teachers, including am emotional support teacher who our students really needed. Students are receiving one-to-one laptops to keep up with technology.

Megan Szentesy, elementary teacher, Penn Manor School District, Lancaster County

Gov. Wolf believes in Teaching not Testing

Gov. Wolf reduced the length of the PSSA by an average of 20 percent in grades three through eight.

That will ease the stress on our kids and let  teachers focus more on learning.

“Gov. Wolf understands that standardized testing takes away from the real work in the classroom. This less time we have to spend on standardized testing the more time we have to spend on the content we know our kids need in the real world.’’ 

Bill Gerhauser, psychology and history teacher, Council Rock School District, Bucks County