PA Education Secretary reflects on proposed budget, school changes

Written by Megan Lello | Feb 16, 2013 7:39 AM

(Harrisburg) -- The state Education Secretary is pushing education officials, teachers, and the state to get creative when it comes to educating students in the next couple of years.

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Secretary Ron Tomalis says he's interested in hearing more about a recent task force's recommendation to convert all schools in the struggling York City School District to charters. "Intriguing proposal. You know, one of the things we have to understand is that the way we've been delivering education in this nation hasn't really changed in the last 150 years. And charters are one option to look at. For some places, charters may not be a viable option, and in other places, charters may be something to look at."

Tomalis made his comments on witf's Radio Smart Talk.

He also says Governor Corbett's plan to privatize the state's liquor stores would bring in about $1 billion to school districts over four years, which could be used in four key areas: early education, science and technology, individualized learning, and school safety.

But he says district officials need to understand funding will only be available for a limited time, much like the recent federal stimulus aid that was doled out to some schools. "They're saying now, 'Yeah, we want the money, but we want it for five, 10, 15 years.' This is a one-time pot of money. They're going to apply to the state, they're going to document to us what they're going to do with the money, and then if they're going to have ongoing costs, they have to acknowledge the fact that they're willing to absorb those costs."

Tomalis says one thing that won't change is the need for high-quality teachers, and cites recent changes to teacher evaluations, which include classroom assessments, as a way to help ensure all instructors meet certain standards.

Hear the entire interview with Tomalis here.

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