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Report Offers Vision for Future of Education in PA

January 14, 2010

HARRISBURG, Pa. - Pennsylvania's largest school employee union is promoting a multi-pronged approach to education in order to better serve students, teachers and taxpayers. In a new report, "20/20 Vision for the Future," the Pennsylvania State Education Association (PSEA) explores a number of areas that ultimately affect a child's ability to learn.

After the longest budget stalemate in Pennsylvania history, the new state spending plan gave public schools a $300 million increase, or 5.7 percent. While supporters say the funding formula is equitable, PSEA president James Testerman points to inequities that still exist, leaving schools in the state's poorest zip codes at a disadvantage. He says it's important to put Pennsylvania students on a level playing field by investing equally in all of them.

"Right now, depending on where a child lives, a school district may or may not have the resources to fully meet the educational needs of that child. That is an issue of equity that we have to address."

One area where minimal dollars can make a big impact, Testerman says, is transition programs to help students move from middle school to high school. Done right, he adds, they can help curb dropout rates.

"The question is, how do we maximize the instructional time and the learning time so students are engaged in a meaningful education throughout the day?"

The report also recommends that the state invest more on students before they even enter public schools, Testerman says.

"We must invest in early childhood education, making sure that as students arrive at our public schools, they're ready to learn."

Testerman also urges districts to institute smaller class sizes and encourage parental involvement in their child's education. Pennsylvania is at a point currently where students are making gains in all areas on statewide testing, he adds, and more students are going to college than ever before.

The full report is available at www.psea.org.

Tom Joseph, Public News Service - PA