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Gov. Wolf names Pedro Rivera as state education secretary

This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.

Newly elected Gov. Wolf has named Lancaster superindentent and Philadelphia native Pedro Rivera to be state secretary of education.

In a statement, Wolf said that Rivera had improved student achievement and graduation rates in Lancaster, as well as stabilizing the district’s finances. He also cited Rivera’s implementation of a “community schools” model, in which students and their families can get medical, dental, vision and other services on site.

“Pedro Rivera is nationally recognized for his efforts to improve urban education, and he will work with me to build a strong public education system and get Pennsylvania back on track,” Wolf said. In September, Rivera was one of 10 Latinos honored at the White House for his work in education. Rivera also co-chaired Wolf’s education transition team.

Wolf’s inaugural address highlighted education, particularly school funding issues.

“Our state will never be as strong as it needs to be if some schools have all the resources they need and other schools are cutting band and football just to keep the lights on. … Our schools must be our highest priority.”

Rivera spent 13 years in the District as a teacher, principal and central office administrator before being tapped to head the Lancaster district in 2008. He also served as a Philadelphia Federation of Teachers staffer.

PFT president Jerry Jordan applauded the appointment, saying, “At a time when 50 percent of the nation’s schoolchildren live in poverty, Rivera’s experience as an educator at schools in Kensington makes him uniquely qualified to address the economic challenges facing Pennsylvania’s schools and children.”

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