Helping our heroes take the next step

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OP-ED from state Rep. Peter Schweyer, Majority Chairman of the PA House Education Committee.

The men and women who put themselves into harm’s way to defend our freedom deserve our thanks and our respect – but we are certainly not stopping there.

House Democrats want to make sure we do our small part to repay the sacrifice of our servicemembers and their families. We can start by doing everything we can to make it easier for families of our men and women in uniform to afford the education they need for a better future.

First off, we’re going to help the dependents of military personnel on active duty here in the Keystone State.

Currently when a dependent of that active-duty soldier, sailor, airman, guardian, or Marine based in Pennsylvania applies to college or trade school here, that dependent gets in-state tuition. But if the military member is transferred to another duty station out of state, the dependent loses the in-state tuition.

We should do everything we can to keep the next generation of heroes here to learn and here to earn. Rep. Frank Burns’ bill makes sure no students would be penalized with years of higher college tuition because their military parent’s reassignment happens to fall at just the wrong time.

We’re also going to help military families the minute they know they’re coming to the commonwealth.

Right now, military families being transferred to Pennsylvania are forced to wait to enroll their children in classes, special programs or certain schools until the family has physically located.

It makes no sense. When you’re moving to a new location you can sign up to get your electric, water, cable, and everything else connected – but you can’t enroll in schools until you’re there?

Rep. Brian Munroe’s bill will fix this – making sure children of military personnel can access enrollment and registration when everyone else can sign up. Just show the military transfer orders and you’re good to go to keep their academic careers on track.

And, last but not least, we’re going to live up to our pledge to Never Forget the horrific terrorist attacks on 9/11 that targeted civilians and took so many lives.

It’s hard to believe that this September will mark 22 years since the attack – there are no school students in the state who were alive that day, and we cannot allow 9/11 to fade into history. We must remember the fallen, thank those who answered the call, and always remember.

Rep. Jim Haddock has a bill to require all schools to hold a moment of silence on 9/11 and calls on the Department of Education to prepare a curriculum teachers can use to drive classroom instruction about that tragic day.

This is just a tiny, tiny part of what House Democrats are doing to deliver better schools.

Earlier this month we worked across the aisle to pass bills to get – and keep – more teachers on the job statewide.

We passed Rep. Mike Schlossberg’s Grow Your Own Teachers plan to help recruit, retrain, and retain more teachers in districts facing the most need.

We passed Rep. Mark Rozzi’s Teacher Pipeline Scholarship plan to put up to $8,000 per year back in the pockets of teachers who attend state system and state-related schools and plan to work as a teacher here in Pennsylvania.

We passed Rep. Bob Freeman’s Students Helping Students plan to get older students involved in tutoring younger students – and hopefully sparking an interest in a career helping to grow our next generation of leaders.

To some, it might seem like a lot. To us? We’re just getting started.

Rep. Schweyer is the majority Chairman of the Pennsylvania House Education Committee and represents the 134th Legislative District which covers portions of Allentown, the borough of Emmaus and portions of Salisbury Township.

(This op-ed is attributable to Chairman Peter Schweyer as well as Rep. Frank Burns, Rep. Jim Haddock and Rep. Robert Freeman.)


Information provided to TVL by:
Thomas LeClair
Research Analyst
House Democratic Education Committee