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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2019 - 2020 Regular Session


Posted: January 29, 2019 12:50 PM
From: Senator Vincent J. Hughes and Sen. Patrick M. Browne
To: All Senate members
Subject: Trauma-Informed Education Initiative
In the near future, we plan on reintroducing a modified version of Senate Bill 1271. This legislation would establish a new, trauma-informed system of education in Pennsylvania.

Decades of research have shown that for children experiencing trauma, the impact on brain development and function can be dramatic. Children experiencing trauma face an impediment to learning and require focused and proven interventions to overcome those obstacles. Research has also shown that empathetic trauma-informed/trauma-focused policies, procedures and practices will have positive impact on the social-emotional growth of students, on their academic achievement, and on the well-being and effectiveness of the professionals who serve them.

Based on this existing research and our work with numerous organizations, including the NAACP, who have championed the expansion of trauma-informed education, we are introducing a bill to:
  • Increase the required training hours for newly elected school board members from four hours to five hours and require training on evidence-based and evidence-informed trauma-informed approaches to education. Increase the advanced training requirement hours required for school board members from two to three hours. A minimum of one hour of this training must be on trauma-informed approaches to education. This provision will also apply to individuals appointed to a board of trustees for charter schools.
  • Require a minimum of one hour of required continuing professional development for professional educators to be on trauma-informed approaches to education.
  • Require all school entities to provide school employees who have direct contact with children to be trained on trauma-informed approaches to education which shall include recognition of the signs of trauma in students and best practices for trauma-informed schools. Training will be evidence-based and reflect current best practices related to trauma-informed approaches to education and must include, but is not be limited to, the following topics:
    • Recognition of the signs of trauma in students;
    • Best practices for trauma-informed schools and classrooms, including utilization of multi-tiered systems of support;
    • The school entity's policies related to trauma-informed education, which may include, but are not limited to, policies related to schoolwide positive behavior supports, restorative justice, and resiliency.
  • Add trauma-informed approaches to education to the postbaccalaureate certification instructional certificate programs that the Secretary of Education can create.
  • Add understanding trauma-informed education and the impact of trauma on a child’s education experience to the Pennsylvania Leadership Standards as corollary standards. This program applies to school or system leaders who seek a certificate as a principal, vice principal, assistant principal, superintendent, assistant superintendent, intermediate unit executive director, assistant intermediate unit executive director or director of an area vocational-technical school.
  • Require the State Board of Education to adopt policies encouraging the inclusion of trauma-informed approaches to education in the curriculum of programs of professional education in all public and private institutions of higher education in this Commonwealth issuing degrees to persons who may desire to teach in the schools of this Commonwealth.
  • Add education and training of children impacted by trauma to those areas in which the Council of Basic Education is specifically authorized to conduct research studies, investigate programs and formulate policy proposals.
  • Authorize the Department of Education to encourage the integration of a trauma-informed approach to education in the Pre-K Counts program to ensure the issue of trauma’s impact on education is identified at the earliest possible time.
This initiative is the beginning of what we hope is a comprehensive approach to bring trauma-informed practices into a variety of daily interactions with children and adults throughout Pennsylvania.

We hope that you will join us in co-sponsoring this important initiative.

If you have any questions, please contact Michael Deery in Senator Hughes’ office or Vicki Wilken in Senator Browne’s office.

Introduced as SB200