Monday, April 22, 2019

Education Secretary Rivera Visits Shenandoah Valley

Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) Secretary Pedro A. Rivera  visited students and staff at the Shenandoah Valley School District last week to discuss Governor Wolf’s proposals to expand access to early childhood education, encourage students to remain in school, and increase compensation for teachers.


As part of a roundtable discussion with Superintendent Brian Waite and other officials, Secretary Rivera highlighted the governor’s new Statewide Workforce, Education, and Accountability Program (SWEAP). The plan calls for lowering the compulsory age for school attendance from 8 years to 6 years, raising the age at which students can drop out of school from 17 to 18, and increasing the minimum salary for teachers to $45,000.

“We know that children who start formal schooling by age 6 benefit in terms of language and literacy skills and are less likely to need remedial help in later years,” said Secretary Rivera, who was visiting the school as part of the governor’s Schools That Teach Tour. “They also learn critical social and emotional skills to help them interact in healthy ways with their fellow students.”

“For students in high school, a diploma is a prerequisite for success,” he added. “Governor Wolf understands that if we can keep kids in school and prevent them from dropping out early, they will develop the skills and credentials they need to succeed.”

Introduced in this year’s budget proposal, the SWEAP plan also focuses on recruiting and retaining qualified teachers by increasing the minimum salary from the current $18,500 to $45,000. Across the state, 180 out of 500 school districts would receive money to raise the minimum salaries, including Northwest, which would receive approximately $20,000 in the 2019-20 budget year.

The proposal applies to an estimated 3,200 full-time classroom teachers and other school professionals, including school nurses and counselors.

“Teachers help shape the future of Pennsylvania – our children – in classrooms across the Commonwealth every day,” added Secretary Rivera. “Unfortunately, Pennsylvania is experiencing a shortage in teachers. Governor Wolf recognizes that raising the minimum salary will entice more college students to become teachers and will also encourage current educators to stay in the profession.”

Secretary Rivera and school officials also discussed the governor’s PAsmart initiative and the importance of expanding student opportunities in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) and in computer science. Governor Wolf launched PAsmart last year as a groundbreaking approach to prepare students and workers for the jobs of today and tomorrow. Through PAsmart grants, the administration has awarded nearly $20 million to bolster STEM and computer science in schools and nearly $10 million to expand apprenticeships and job training.

This year, the governor is proposing an additional $10 million for PAsmart to expand career and technical education for adults as well as job training programs at companies to enhance the skills of Pennsylvania workers.




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