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.
“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.