PSEA recommends 20 ways to improve public education

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The Pennsylvania State Education Association today released a report highlighting 20 ways to improve public education, such as focusing on districts with high levels of poverty, investing in early childhood education and providing tutoring.

PSEA president Michael Crossey urged lawmakers to use the 104-page report, called "Solutions That Work," to design initiatives to help students..

In a press release, Mr. Crossey said, "When you ask Pennsylvanians about the issues that are most important to them, public education is at the top of the list. Our students need these solutions, and we want to do everything we can to bring these solutions into every classroom in Pennsylvania."

The list includes halting the growth of class size; improving special education programs and funding; fostering art, music, physical education, world languages and extracurricular activities; maximizing the use of learning time in and out of school; implementing effective distance learning strategies;and improving student assessment.

It also calls for making a safe and secure school environment; providing appropriate English language learner services; reducing the high school dropout rate; expanding post-secondary education opportunities; and updating the state charter school law; and encouraging parent, family and community engagement.

Other ideas include improving new teacher induction and mentoring; ensuring quality teacher preparation; making high-quality professional development available to all educators; and protecting the services of education support professionals.

The report also calls for adequately funding public education, saying that public schools, despite some funding restorations at the state level, remain $700 million below 2010-11 funding levels.

The report also includes statistics about teachers and student performance.

In 2011-12, the report states the average teacher salary in Pennsylvania was $61,934, with the average teacher having 13.2 years of service. About half of the teachers had master's degrees.

In 2012-13, the average starting salary in school districts, intermediate units and vo-tech schools was $41,900.

The report stated the average teacher salary decreased by 7.8 percent over the past 15 years "relative to the price of goods and services."

Eleanor Chute: or 412-263-1955.

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