WEST NORRITON, June 3, 2022 – State Senator Katie Muth (D- Berks/Chester/Montgomery), chair of the Senate Democratic Policy Committee, today joined Senator Tim Kearney (D-Chester/Delaware), Senator Amanda Cappelletti (D-Montgomery/Delaware), and Senator Maria Collett to host a public hearing on student perspectives in education at Norristown Area School District.
“Today’s event was really one of the best policy hearings we’ve had so far. Hearing directly from the students about the issues they encounter in their schools and lives does not happen enough in state government,” Muth said. “This was such a timely discussion – with the tragedy that unfolded in Texas just two weeks ago, the lingering mental health effects of the pandemic, and ongoing social justice and equity issues, we need to engage with all of our students across the Commonwealth to really hear and understand how they are doing, what they are dealing with, and what supports they need to succeed and thrive. Today’s participants spoke with passion, discussed facts and data, and shared how they addressed certain issues within their own schools. It was an honor to be among so many bright, empathetic students who are truly dedicated to the mission of achieving equity and teaching racial and cultural literacy.”
The Senate Democratic Policy Committee hearing gave students from eight diverse Montgomery County School Districts an opportunity to present their research findings on the issues of school equity, school climate, and student mental health.
“While legislators debate ways to improve school safety and student mental health, students have the most important insight into the issues affecting their own lives,” Kearney said. “This policy hearing serves as a reminder that their voices also matter and will help us, as policymakers, make better education-related decisions on their behalf.”
The participating students were all members of the Montgomery County Cultural Proficiency and Equity Student Ambassadors (CPESA) program. The program’s goal is to develop student ambassadors with the skills to become resilient social justice advocates.
“When we give students a seat at the table, we not only promote a better learning environment at school, but we can also develop collaborative and positive changes in our broader communities,” Collett added. “I was eager to learn more about the challenges local students face, and how we in the legislature can work to alleviate these burdens and enhance the learning experience for all students.”
The students that participated in the hearing included Mia Cruz, Cheltenham High School; Finn Anderson, Upper Dublin High School; Noa Sussman, Upper Dublin High School; Kaleb Brennan, Hatboro-Horsham High School; Veronica Botero, Abington Senior High School; Nidhi Ram, Lower Moreland High School; Dominique Bethel, North Penn High School; Colin Woodland, Strath Haven High School; and Nailah Sweetling, Strath Haven High School. Other testifiers included Carmina Taylor, CPESA Consultant, and Adina Goldstein, Penn Graduate School of Education research analyst.
“Engaging with students is essential as they are the leaders of tomorrow,” Cappelletti said. “Today’s hearing gave us the opportunity to engage directly with student leaders in our region to learn about what solutions they need from us. This survey has shone a light on what is happening. It is vital that we listen.””
Full video from today’s hearing is available at SenatorMuth.com/Policy
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