Testifying Wednesday on school safety issues before the state Senate Education and Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committees, the president of the Pennsylvania State Education Association (PSEA) said students learn best when they are in safe learning environments, and he recommended several policies to achieve this goal for all public school students.

PSEA President Mike Crossey pointed to school safety initiatives included in Solutions That Work, the organization's comprehensive blueprint for change in Pennsylvania's public schools.

"Students, parents, teachers, and administrators have the right to expect their schools to be safe havens for learning," Crossey said. "The tragedy at Sandy Hook reminds us all that more must be done to keep our schools safe. Now, we need to work together on a multi-pronged, sustainable approach to achieve this goal."

Crossey outlined a series of school safety recommendations, including:

- Establishing a statewide school safety advisory committee to recommend school safety strategies;

- Creating and updating model school safety plans for school districts;

- Strengthening relationships among public schools, law enforcement, and social service providers;

- Increasing access to mental health providers to stop school violence before it occurs;

- Expanding alternative education programs for disruptive students, and

- Training for students and educators in ways to communicate about bullying, threats, abusive behavior, and gang violence.

"As educators, we are focused on providing a positive learning environment for our children, and we are eager to help identify the strategies and supports students need to achieve that goal," Crossey said.