This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.
If a pair of powerful Pennsylvania state senators get their way, a burgeoning approach to managing student behavior could become a mandate.
State Sens. Pat Browne (R-Lehigh) and Vincent Hughes (D-Philadelphia), announced a proposal last week to create a “trauma-informed system of education.” The central plank of their proposal is a requirement that all teachers, school board members, and school employees “with direct contact with students” receive trauma-informed training.
The details don’t go much further than that, and the proposal hasn’t been turned into a bill yet.
The plan is likely to have legs, though, based on the politicians promoting it.
Browne and Hughes co-chair the Senate’s Appropriations Committee. In the last legislative term, their school safety bill enabled the creation of a new $60 million fund for school safety upgrades.
Plus, this topic has been gaining wider attention. A 2017 review by the National Conference of State Legislators found a spike nationwide in legislation related to trauma-informed care.
This latest proposal represents another evolution in Pennsylvania’s approach to school safety, an issue pushed into the spotlight after deadly school shootings earlier this year. Although much of the debate since then has revolved around whether districts should allow some teachers to carry guns in school, there’s also been bipartisan momentum around the need to focus more on behavioral health.