Wolf’s education nominee gets nod from key Pa. panel

Acting Pennsylvania Education Secretary Pedro Rivera began his remarks to the Senate Education Committee as he would before a classroom.

“Good morning,” Rivera said, to muffled greetings in return.

“Wow, can I try that again?” said Rivera. “I feel like I’m in front of my students.”

The back-and-forth improved from there. Before the panel voted unanimously to advance Rivera’s name for consideration, multiple lawmakers praised him for being responsive to their questions over the past few months.

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“You’re like the first secretary that has actually answered any of my letters,” said Sen. Mike Folmer, R-Lebanon, adding later, “in that, I could just give you a big hug.”

Rivera, most recently the superintendent of the School District of Lancaster, has touted his experience working in cities with a great diversity of student needs. He’s a high-profile nominee, in part, because the governor has made boosting education funding a central piece of his agenda.

Rivera said Tuesday that he sees room for his own agency to grow, as well.

“We are understaffed and under-resourced,” said Rivera. “We’ve not always been as responsive as we could have been and should have been.”

The full Senate is expected to hold a vote on Rivera’s confirmation as education secretary in May.

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