Wolf picks Rivera for Pa. education secretary

    Superintendent Pedro Rivera poses for a photograph at Lincoln Middle School in Lancaster, Pa. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

    Superintendent Pedro Rivera poses for a photograph at Lincoln Middle School in Lancaster, Pa. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

    Pedro Rivera, superintendent of the School District of Lancaster, will be sworn-in Tuesday as acting Pennsylvania education secretary.

    The education secretary is expected to have a high profile in this administration, given governor-elect Tom Wolf’s promise to boost funding for schools.

    “What excites me most… is that we have a governor who has committed himself to trying,” said Rivera Tuesday. “We have a governor who has been public in saying he’s going to work and walk across the aisle to best serve the children of Pennsylvania.”

    Rivera is a product of urban schools. He was born and raised in Philadelphia, and attended private Catholic school, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported. He has worked as a teacher, principal, and assistant principal in the city’s public school system.

    He said Lancaster’s diversity helps him understand challenges faced by schools across the commonwealth.

    “Lancaster is really a microcosm of what we see now across the United States,” said Rivera. “This year 80 percent of our students qualify for free and reduced [price] lunch. Almost 20 percent of our students were English language learners. Close to 19 percent of our students were students who had a specific special need. Three percent of the kids are refugee students.”

    Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

    It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.