State legislators speak about importance of improving education at news conference

ALLENTOWN, Aug. 11 – State Rep. Peter Schweyer, chairman of the Pennsylvania House Education Committee, joined school administration staff, teachers, parents and fellow legislators in Allentown this morning to speak about the importance of improving education.

Schweyer specifically spoke about better schools and ensuring children have access to quality education as well as teacher retention, all being key priorities for him and his House Democratic colleagues.

“This school we are at today wasn’t built before smartphones -- it was built before telephones were invented, but that doesn’t mean the kids who go here don’t deserve the same opportunities kids in rich districts get,” Schweyer said. “It’s not just about the total dollars we put into education, it’s about making sure every kid has the tools they need to succeed, no matter where they go to school or how involved their parents can be. There’s nothing more American than good public schools giving every kid a chance. That’s what we’re fighting for today.”

Reps. Mike Schlossberg and Josh Siegel and state Sen. Nick Miller were also present to speak about the importance of better schools and facility improvement.

“Studies show that when teachers leave a school, they aren’t going to another. They’re leaving teaching altogether. Not only is this issue costly for the school because they have to replace those teachers, but it also is costly for the students, especially those in underprivileged school districts,” Schlossberg said.

“Many teachers are leaving the field due to lack of compensation for the work they do and burnout. When teachers are adequately paid, they are more likely to continue to return year after year. The same is true with burnout – teachers experience this most when they feel as though they are the only ones bearing the burden of education. Schools must continue to build a culture of support so they can help these teachers dissipate feelings of isolation. This event created a space for all of us to have that dialogue and talk through ideas that we believe will help tackle these issues.”

Added Siegel: “We know that school facilities affect health, behavior, engagement, learning and growth in achievement. Furthermore, students focus better when they’re comfortable. We have schools across this commonwealth filled with asbestos and certain areas of the building are falling apart. This makes it dangerous for our students and for the staff. How do we expect children to go to school and learn in these conditions? How do we expect teachers to show up every day and be a hundred percent focused on teaching the students? We can’t unless we start purging these problems by investing in solutions.”