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Superintendents’ forum: Making Decisions that Impact the Future

This article was originally published in the Reading Eagle:

By: Mr. Christian Temchatin, Kutztown Area School District
Thursday, February 1, 2024

Each year in January and February, high school students begin meeting with school counselors, securing course recommendations from teachers and consulting with their parents on what courses to take for the following school year.

Those decisions can be difficult while considering their future goals and current interests. Another driving force behind decisions is meeting the local and state requirements for graduation. Those requirements are based on years of consideration of the local district but also priorities based on what the legislators and educators in Pennsylvania believe are the essential skills and competencies for a thriving citizenry of the future.

In December, changes impacting Pennsylvania’s public schools were enacted as Gov. Josh Shapiro signed into law a series of bills altering the Pennsylvania School Code. These legislative updates occur annually and often fly under the radar They hold significant weight, representing the culmination of thoughtful discussions between educators, community members, and policymakers, all striving to enhance student education and prepare them for success in a globalized society.

Several of these updates shine a light on the ongoing need to adapt public education to meet the evolving personal, professional and societal needs of future generations.

One such measure is the update to Act 35, requiring financial literacy courses for all high school students. While some districts such as Kutztown already offer such programs, this new legislation ensures consistent access to knowledge of credit, investments, loans and planning for future education and retirement across the entire state. This reflects the ever-increasing complexity of personal finance and underscores its importance in the lives of every young adult.

Existing financial literacy courses also will benefit from this update, as it sets higher standards and encourages richer, more comprehensive curriculum content.

Act 35 represents just one instance among many demonstrating how advocacy and legislation contribute to annual changes and requirements for student support and preparation.\

With each change or mandate, there are costs to districts in terms of time, energy or money that must be considered. This cost-benefit analysis is another point of discussion that occurs between school leaders and legislators leading up to, and following, the passage of new requirements.

Each day, 70,000 Berks County students embark on their educational journeys within their local communities. While the tireless efforts of dedicated teachers remain the cornerstone of their success, both present and future, significant work is happening at other levels to further bolster their educational experience.

Locally, school boards and leaders collaborate to tailor courses, programs and support systems to the specific needs of their communities. Regionally and statewide, advocacy groups champion student needs and fight for adequate funding.

Our public education system plays a vital role in strengthening and enhancing the American way of life. Let’s acknowledge and celebrate the individuals across all levels of public education, dedicated to shaping our shared past, present and future.

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