School chaplains could soon be coming to Pennsylvania

02 April 2024- Rep. Dave Zimmerman (R-Lancaster) today introduced legislation known as the Student and Teacher Support Act to allow public school entities to employ, or approve as a volunteer, a certified school chaplain.

“With teacher and student morale at an all-time low, it’s time that we provide students and teachers with the support they need,” said Zimmerman.

“Data from more than 30,000 schools in 23 countries shows, on average, a 37% increase in high school graduation rates, an 80% decrease in teen pregnancies and a virtual elimination of suicides when a chaplain is present in school,” continued Zimmerman. “Schools with chaplains present show an increase in student grades, teacher retention, school safety, respect for authorities and student-teacher relations. Additionally, schools with chaplains result in decreased alcohol and drug consumption, school violence, discipline issues, and bullying.”

Zimmerman noted the bill would not create a mandate. It would simply allow school districts, which are locally governed, to hire a chaplain if decided by their school board.

“This would be one more resource school districts could use to help support students and teachers in their schools,” said Zimmerman.

Throughout America, certified chaplains are employed by airports, hospitals, U.S. Department of Defense, federal and state prisons, U.S. Congress, fire departments, police departments and the CIA.

House Bill 2183 is expected to be referred to the House Education Committee.