HARRISBURG — In one of his final actions before taking office today, Gov.-elect Tom Wolf announced the superintendent of the Lancaster schools as his nominee to lead the Department of Education.
Pedro Rivera, superintendent of the School District of Lancaster since 2008, was honored at the White House in September as one of 10 Hispanic leaders in education.
Under his leadership, the school district of approximately 11,500 students, 17 percent of whom are learning English, has strengthened its graduation rates and reading proficiency scores, Mr. Wolf’s transition team said in a statement Monday.
Education funding was a prominent issue in the gubernatorial campaign, with Democrats and education advocates blaming Gov. Tom Corbett for losses schools received in his first budget, when money from the federal stimulus ran out.
Mr. Rivera said in an interview that “what’s most exciting about this opportunity” is knowing Mr. Wolf has identified education funding as a priority.
Mr. Rivera said he would seek to restore resources to schools, especially to those with needy populations, and to provide opportunities for early childhood learning and preparation for college and careers.
“As leaders, we create conditions in which school districts work,” he said. “As secretary of education, I look forward to creating conditions in which superintendents and school boards and school leaders can be successful in serving both their children and their communities.”
A Philadelphia native, Mr. Rivera worked for 13 years in the Philadelphia public schools, including jobs as a principal, assistant principal, classroom teacher and human resources director.
A spokesman for the Pennsylvania State Education Association, the state’s largest teachers union, praised the nomination.
“Pedro Rivera is an excellent choice,” spokesman Wythe Keever said. “His experience as superintendent of the School District of Lancaster is very significant, and also his advocacy for urban school districts is particularly important.”
Mr. Wolf also announced that former state Rep. Kathy Manderino is his pick to lead the Department of Labor & Industry. Ms. Manderino serves as campaign manager for the Campaign for Fair Education Funding. Previously, she was senior vice president of Intercommunity Action, Inc., a human services agency.
Both nominations must be confirmed by the state Senate.
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