New education leaders in Pa. legislature seek to reduce role of state tests, increase accountability for cyber charters
State Rep. Curt Sonney hails from just outside Erie, Pennsylvania, representing an ‘L’-shaped district in the state’s northwestern corner.
State Sen. Ryan Aument comes from the state’s heartland and represents a chunk of fast-growing Lancaster County.
But the two Republican lawmakers have something important in common: They will lead the education committees in their respective chambers this legislative session. Their appointments make them major players on an issue that tends to draw considerable attention in Harrisburg.
Aument, who’s been a fixture on House and Senate Education Committees since arriving in Harrisburg eight years ago, has personal and professional ties to education. He majored in the subject at The Citadel military college, and his wife taught for years at the Milton Hershey School near Harrisburg.
As a freshman representative in 2011, he quickly identified education as an issue that could help him establish himself in Harrisburg.
“I recognized early on there was a real opportunity to have an influence and be really useful in the caucus,” Aument said.
Within months of arriving in the Capitol, Aument helped spearhead the creation of a statewide teacher evaluation law — which judges teachers’ effectiveness, in part, by their students’ performance on standardized tests.