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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2021 - 2022 Regular Session


Posted: February 7, 2022 12:16 PM
From: Senator Ryan P. Aument and Sen. Vincent J. Hughes
To: All Senate members
Subject: Pennsylvania Commission on Education and Economic Competitiveness
In the near future we intend to introduce a bill to create the Pennsylvania Commission on Education and Economic Competitiveness.
This proposal will be similar to the composition and responsibilities contained in Senate Resolution 144, which would have created the 2030 Commission on Education and Economic Competitiveness and passed.  Senate Resolution 144 passed the Senate last summer but has not been considered by the House of Representatives.  However, this proposal will place the “Commission” in statute with the intent to reconvene every ten years for the purpose of updating the vision and goals of the Commonwealth.
Pennsylvania’s future depends on becoming a much stronger economic competitor to its neighboring states and, increasingly, a number of wealthy nations in a global economy. To meet the challenges of an interconnected, knowledge-driven global economic landscape, Pennsylvania must build the world-class education system necessary to produce a highly skilled workforce. 
The urgency to reshape our education system into one that meets the economic and workforce needs of the Commonwealth is significant. Coupled with the problems associated with Pennsylvania’s aging population, our unreadiness for current and future labor needs is evident. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic began to reshape the labor market, Pennsylvania faced an uncertain economic future.
Large areas of Pennsylvania are heavily dependent on economic sectors that are currently in danger of job losses due to automation and are poised to see job losses accelerate in the wake of the pandemic. Though these changes will present new work opportunities in different industries, Pennsylvanians must be ready and able to fill these family-sustaining jobs.
Pennsylvania’s education system has become antiquated and is struggling to meet students’ needs. Fixing that problem in order to not only meet the needs of today’s students - but tomorrow’s as well - will require a more resilient, adaptable and future-ready approach.
To move Pennsylvania into a position of education and economic competitiveness, we must act quickly to:
  • Create a shared, state-wide, bipartisan vision for 21st century education that will prepare all students to be lifelong learners and compete in a globalized economy
  • Develop a shared, society-wide understanding of the needs of Pennsylvania’s current and future economy and the context in which its education system currently operates
  • Establish the policies and regulations necessary to give all school districts the support and flexibility they need to build world-class education systems
  • Build the data infrastructure to allow Pennsylvania to track how far it has come in competing in the world economy
Investing in a world-class, intentionally redesigned education system that meets the economic needs of the Commonwealth is urgent and necessary. It will provide all our educators with the supports and structures they need to thrive in their careers. It will guarantee that our students go on to enjoy fulfilling work, stable incomes, and lifelong careers. It will enable our citizens to find fulfilling, family-sustaining employment and attract new residents to Pennsylvania. And it will decrease our spending on prisons and healthcare and our reliance on social safety nets to support those trapped in intergenerational poverty. 
Ultimately, stronger education outcomes lead to economic prosperity, which can drive a much broader vision for prosperity: a healthy, happy, active, informed, and engaged citizenry, able to lead prosperous, comfortable lives, wherever in Pennsylvania they live.
In order to create a long-term vision for Pennsylvania’s education system in 2030 and beyond, and a legislative action plan for getting there, we are proposing the creation of the Pennsylvania Commission on Education and Economic Competitiveness. The Commission will be bicameral and have the authority to study the challenges within the current system, learn from approaches to systemic redesign all over the world – from Europe to Asia to leading districts within the Commonwealth – and come up with innovative policy solutions that will enable educators and students to meet the future head on. In addition, the Commission will be supplemented by a Subcommittee on Education Planning (the “Subcommittee”) consisting of representatives from key Pennsylvania stakeholder organizations, who will conduct more in-depth research and policy analysis to inform the work of the Commission.
The initial outputs of this work would include Pennsylvania’s own “2030 Plan” that will:
  • Analyze global educational and economic trends to forecast the skills and competencies Pennsylvania’s workers and citizens will need to be competitive in 2030 and beyond;
  • Set a vision for what Pennsylvania’s education system can look like in 2030 to meet that need;
  • Analyze Pennsylvania’s current context and compare it to the future vision and identify policies that will be needed to bridge that gap;
  • Offer concrete recommendations for the 2023 legislative session; and
  • Present a preliminary implementation plan for getting from the 2023 legislation to the 2030 vision.
Then, in January 2031 and reconvening every ten years thereafter, the Commission will regroup to update and reevaluate the goals and vision of the Commonwealth for the next decade.
For additional information on the need for the Pennsylvania Commission on Education and Economic Competitiveness, please see the attached document which was prepared to explain the urgency for the original 2030 Commission on Education and Economic Competitiveness proposal.  We hope you will join us in creating a vision for brighter future in Pennsylvania.

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Introduced as SB1252