More than 45 Committee on Legislative Action (COLA) members attended the second meeting of the 2022-2023 school year to keep abreast of the current education legislative landscape and to continue conversations on how to best advocate for our students and schools. Mr. Andrew Christ, Senior Director of Education Policy; and Mr. Larry Feinberg, Director of the Keystone Center for Charter Change, our professional partners from the Pennsylvania School Boards Association (PSBA), joined the group to share their insights regarding the fall legislative session in Harrisburg, PSBA priorities for 2023, and charter reform.
The group met on Election Day, November 8, 2022, and of particular interest was the anticipated changes in Harrisburg due to the election. Mr. Christ reported that as many as 50-60 new legislators will be elected across the Commonwealth – a result of incumbents not returning to their seats due to retirements, running for new seats, losing in the primary election, or losing in the general election. This is a historic turnover, nearly 25% of the present legislature will not be returning.
Coupled with redistricting, the impact to Berks County will be significant. Education is not considered to be the “biggest” issue on the ballot, but the legislative changes could make a difference in the outlook for vouchers and school choice expansion, charter reform, funding, new mandates, and cultural issues. It will be important for school leaders to forge connections with our new representatives and continue to strengthen our relationships with those we know.
COLA Co-Chairs Mr. Andrew Potteiger, Superintendent of the Brandywine Heights Area School District; and Dr. Greg Miller, Superintendent of the Fleetwood Area School District; along with Dr. Jill Hackman, BCIU Executive Director, sincerely appreciate the active participation and collaboration of COLA members from our school districts and Career and Technology Centers. Our professional partners have applauded the Berks County COLA group for demonstrating positive advocacy for students and for being a model for others to follow.
The next meeting of COLA is scheduled for Tuesday, February 21, 2023. At that time, COLA members will hear from Mrs. Noelle Ellerson Ng, Associate Executive Director, Advocacy and Governance, the American Association for School Administrators (AASA), who will speak on federal education policy.