House Democrats fight for students and go Beyond Safe Schools
Kids should be focused on learning when they're in school, and parents should have peace of mind when their kids get on the bus.
We fought and won to invest $60 million into making sure our kids are safe at school and are creating new ways for students, teachers and parents to report dangerous activities and bullying.
We're just getting started!
It's about more than locked doors, metal detectors and security cameras. We're focused on a comprehensive, proactive plan to keep our kids safe. That starts with the tools they need for better mental health and behavior supports they can take with them when they receive their diplomas.
HB 121 Rep. Miller – School Security Training on Trauma and Mental Health – This initiative increases safety training requirements for school security officers by requiring increased firearm, first aid, CPR, and AED training and requires recertification in the above listed child-centered, age-appropriate requirements for school police officers and school security officers.
HB 390 Rep. Miller – PDE to Develop Certificate for School Social Workers - When a school chooses to employ social workers, this initiative would require those professionals to be certified. Certification for school social workers allows social workers to be part of the integrated team to provide mental health, case management, crisis intervention, and referral services for students, and allows school counselors and school psychologists to focus on their designated roles.
HB 434 Rep. Solomon & Grove – Cultural Awareness Training for Educators – This initiative aims to empower educators across Pennsylvania with a curriculum that connects kids to various cultures through food, art, books, movies, dance, travel and other cross-cultural experiences. It will encourage kids from different parts of the state to learn and appreciate each region and county’s culture. In addition, it will use this curriculum to build empathy and understanding of various disabilities that can afflict all people, regardless of culture, class, or creed. Teachers will be given free training on cultural awareness that allows them to effectively tailor and deliver their unique curriculum to meet the guidelines of this legislation.
Rep. Miller & Ortitay – Depression Screening - Students are required to undergo a variety of health examinations while attending school. These include medical and dental exams, vision and hearing screening, scoliosis screening, and a series of immunizations to name a few. While these requirements are undoubtedly important, the mental health of our children is of equal, if not greater, importance. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, 50% of mental health issues can be diagnosed by age 14, and the lack of proper diagnosis and treatment can result in serious risk-taking behaviors such as truancy, substance abuse, harm to oneself, or, in very rare cases, harm to others. This initiative would alter student physical forms to require pediatricians to ask if kids in the sixth grade and above should receive a depression screen as part of their routine, required health screening.
HB 119 Rep. Miller & Ortitay – SD Reporting on Suicide Incidents – This initiative would require each school district to report all attempted and committed suicide incidents that occur on school property to the Office of Safe Schools within 72 hours of the school becoming aware of the incident. By mandating school reporting of attempted and committed suicides, we will have a better understanding as to the scope of this problem which will hopefully lead us to new ideas that will reduce suicide.
HB 590 Rep. Miller & Schlossberg – Mental Health Curriculum Requirement – This initiative requires the addition of mental health education into existing health and wellness curricula for all primary and secondary schools. By ensuring that young people learn about mental health, we increase the likelihood that they will be able to recognize signs in themselves and others and seek help. As we begin to teach the facts about mental health and openly discuss the issues from a health perspective, we will begin to remove the stigma surrounding mental illness that causes ostracism and isolation, leads to bullying, and keeps many students from getting the help they need. Health education that respects the importance of mental health and challenges of mental illness will help young people and their families feel more comfortable seeking treatment, improve academic performance, and save lives.
HB 643 Rep. Kinsey, Bullock & Rothman – Bullying Prevention Education – This initiative would require bullying prevention education to be taught in schools across all grade levels. Although some school districts have made great strides in adopting bullying prevention policies, there is nothing to address bullying at its root cause. Accordingly, an age-appropriate bullying prevention and interventions program, as a curricular requirement for students in kindergarten through grade twelve, will enable Pennsylvania to move closer to eliminating bullying as a public health threat.
HB 1355 Rep. Longietti – Requiring one certified Librarian per school building – This initiative requires each school building to have at least one certified librarian to help students learn outside the classroom.
HB 1418 Rep. Hill-Evans – Removing Barriers to High School Graduation – This initiative is aimed at assisting public schools in procuring the services of non-profit organizations that provide evidence-based student support services to help students remove both these barriers to learning. Specifically, it will create a program that would allocate grants to schools to be used solely for services addressing the overall needs, including mental health, of students to prevent school dropouts
Rep. Kenyatta - Report on Improving Support Services in Schools – This initiative requires the department of education to report information regarding counselors, social workers and psychologists in schools and to implement a plan to increase the school counselor, school social worker and school psychologist to student ratio to nationally accepted standards and provide funding for such.
HB 1998 Rep. Sturla - Establishing a Tool to Quantify Trauma in Schools - This initiative directs the Joint State Government Commission (JSGC) to conduct a comprehensive study to find an age-appropriate measuring tool Pennsylvania school districts can use to measure, track, and combat trauma with the necessary support services.
HB 2015 Rep. Sturla – Including Trauma as a Factor in the BEF Formula – This initiative adds chronic absenteeism, homelessness, and foster care students, definitive proxies of trauma that school districts are already mandated to measure, to the school funding formula based on the recommendations of the 2015 Basic Education Funding Commission Report.
HB 1409 Rep. Roebuck - Decrease School Nurse to Student Ratios from 1,500 to 750 - School nurses are first and foremost health care providers. As RNs, their primary function is to provide professional nursing services to school children and, to a limited extent, adults in the school setting. This initiative would decrease the ratio of student to school nurse to be in line with what is recommended by the CDC and the National School Nurse Association in order to ensure that students are having their health care needs met in the school setting.
Rep. Miller - Increase Access to School Counselors/Psychologists/Social Workers – This initiative will help schools evaluate their needs based on school population and provide a necessary complement of school counselors to identify students who may be in need of mental health services and assist students in receiving the assistance they need. By providing access to additional counseling services, the identification and treatment of students who may be in need of assistance may help to prevent future tragedies. It is important that we provide schools, students as well as their families and ultimately their communities with this important help.