– As part of the 2022-23 state budget, the Education Code recently enacted includes six proposals pushed by Rep. Jason Ortitay (R-Washington/Allegheny).
These changes include the largest investment in student mental health and school safety focused grants in state history, establishment of a catalog of online courses for K-12 students and teachers, adding a year of eligibility for special education students to combat learning loss, creating a structured literacy program to address early literacy, adding a disability inclusion curriculum pilot program, and allowing charter schools to offer dual enrollment along with efforts to increase diversity in teaching and recruitment to help address teacher shortages.
“I’m thrilled that my proposals are now law,” Ortitay said. “While they were not adopted as standalone bills with my name on them, I have no pride of authorship so it’s nice to see these policies get across the finish line. Education has been a major focus for me this term. These six proposals represent a large portion of that work. While I recognize there’s still a lot of opportunity for improvement in our education system, these pieces of legislation will help lead to a better education for students and teachers across the Commonwealth no matter where they live.”
The Ortitay legislation included in the code bill are:
• House Bill 2468
, which allocates $100 million for school safety and allows that money to be used for student mental health focused grants. The school district will be given the flexibility to use the grant for a variety of purposes related to student mental health needs. This is similar to a grant program Ortitay worked on as part of the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency’s School Safety and Security Committee, which was signed into law four years ago.
• House Bill 1330
, which requires the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) to create a clearinghouse of online courses for students in grades K-12 to be accessible to public schools, nonpublic schools, home education programs and the general public. Schools may opt to participate in the programs as they see fit. The courses will be phased in beginning with high school classes in the 2024-25 school year, followed by middle and then elementary school courses. In addition, a professional development course catalog for teachers will be created.
• House Bill 2045
, which requires PDE to create a program of professional development and applied practice in structured literacy for school personnel. Schools can then elect to participate. The program includes in-class demonstrations, modeling and coaching support to improve reading and early literacy outcomes. This program will be invaluable in teaching students how to read and improve literacy.
• House Bill 2674
, which amends Act 66 of 2021
and provides an additional year of instruction to special education students who reached the age of 21 during the 2021-22 school year or before the 2022-23 school year starts. Due to COVID-19, many of these students suffered immense learning loss and need a bridge before aging out of the public school system.
A proposal authored in a February 2022 co-sponsorship memo, which strengthens the Commonwealth’s dual enrollment and credit program allowing students of all backgrounds to receive college credits while in high school so they can begin working toward their bachelor’s degree. For the first time, charter schools will be able to offer dual enrollment as an option. It also establishes programs to support the expansion of the educator pipeline with a focus on diverse candidates. In addition, PDE will be required to appoint an individual within the state agency who will be responsible for coordinating teacher recruitment, retention and diversity.
• House Bill 1809
creates a pilot program to provide instruction to all students on the political, economic and social contributions of individuals with disabilities.
The 46th Legislative District includes Collier and South Fayette townships and Bridgeville, Heidelberg, McDonald and Oakdale boroughs in Allegheny County. It also encompasses Canton, Cecil, Mt. Pleasant, Robinson and Smith townships and Burgettstown, McDonald and Midway boroughs in Washington County.
Representative Jason Ortitay
46th Legislative District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Tracy Polovick
RepOrtitay.com / Facebook.com/RepOrtitay