ESTTOWN – Education is key.
U.S. MP Chrissy Hulahan, D-6th Easttown, held a town hall on education Tuesday.
The virtual forum was attended by special guests George Fier, Executive Director of the Chester County Intermediate Division, and Jill Hackman, Executive Director of the Berks County Intermediate Division.
“As a former educator, I saw firsthand how personal learning could affect a child’s trajectory,” Hulahan said ahead of the event.
“The last two years have been incredibly devastating for all of us, but our students and faculty have faced unique challenges during distance learning,” she said. “Our education system can be a powerful guide for young people as they develop and learn, so we need to address the issues that are straining it.”
During the town hall, a representative of Congress and participants in the discussion discussed the third round of funds from the American Emergency Rescue Plan (ESSER) in Berks and Chester counties.
Since March 2020, Congress has allocated $ 189.5 billion to ESSER funds through three additional anti-coronavirus bills, including the CARES Act and the Additional Coronavirus Response and Assistance Act under former President Donald Trump and the U.S. rescue plan under President Joe Biden.
In this latest wave of funding ESSER from the U.S. Pennsylvania School Rescue Plan received more than $ 209 million.
“Through federal law, including the U.S. Rescue Plan, I proudly voted to provide first and middle school ambulance supplies to Pennsylvania students and faculty,” Hulahan said in her opening remarks Tuesday.
“Thanks to the American Rescue Plan, these funds amounted to more than $ 200 million for schools in our constituency, which includes the entire county of Chester and southern Berks, including the city of Reading,” she said.
The town hall has become the 54th such event for Hulahan since he took office.
“Each event focuses on a specific topic,” Hulahan said. “In today’s case, we are focused on education.”
Hulahan used to work as a chemistry teacher for high school students.
“I saw firsthand how personal learning could affect a child’s trajectory,” she said.
“The last two years have been incredibly devastating for all of us, but our students and faculty have faced unique challenges during distance learning,” Hulahan said. “A strong education system is a powerful reference point for young people as they develop and learn, so we need to address issues that are straining our schools, both nationally and in our community.”
Some students have had a hard time over the past two years due to the pressure of virtual learning, isolation from friends in the spring of 2020 and learning to read and write with the addition of masks to the equation.
As previously reported, depression has intensified among adolescents since the end of the pandemic in 2020.
Depression is also found among young people. According to TIME, in April 2020 in the US from 19 to 22 years compared to April 2019 there was an increase in depression by 49.6 percent and generalized anxiety disorder by 67.5 percent.
Supporting well-being and mental health is one of the key areas in which intermediate units in Berks and Chester counties plan to spend federal funds on education from the U.S. Rescue Plan. Human resources are also a key area of focus.
“Now is the time to take what we have learned over the last two years and build on it as we continue to study, refine and revise our education delivery models so that they reflect best practices and meet both the academic and socio-emotional needs of our children, ”said Jill Hackman, executive director of the Berks County Intermediate.
Hackman said taking part in an educational event at Hulahan City Hall on Tuesday was an honor.
“In Berks County, all the conversations and decisions made by administrators and faculty are focused on what’s best for more than 70,000 students and 5,000 staff across the county,” she said. “Our top priority remains the health and well-being of all people, while attracting students to high-quality education.”
She said that during the COVID-19 pandemic, collaboration and communication between administrators, staff and parents were very important to ensure that students from primary to 12th grade provided an interesting learning experience.
“As we move forward, the Berks County Intermediate Division remains committed to our mission of serving our schools and the wider community,” Hackman said.
“Education is evolving,” said George Fior, executive director of the Chester County Intermediate Division. “Chester County is home to some of the best schools and school districts in the country. Innovation was the mantra for our county and continued through the pandemic. “
As executive director of the Chester Fior County Intermediate Division, he and his team serve many students with diverse needs.
“I was inspired by our teachers, students and families during the pandemic,” he said. “We worked together to continue educating students during the pandemic. Our schools in partnership with our families have been engaged in personal education since August 2020. ”
As for how more music and art can be taught in public schools, especially in areas where there is a significant level of poverty, Fior said: “Music and art are the cornerstones of quality schools. In order to increase access to these programs, equitable funding for schools in high poverty should be a priority. Unfortunately, there are schools in our state that do not have the necessary funds to support a comprehensive school program that is very much needed by all students. ”