Three contrarian votes from Republican senators—including one from the Delaware Valley—failed to halt the confirmation of Gov. Josh Shapiro’s pick for education secretary this week.

On Monday, the Republican-controlled Senate’s education committee approved Acting Education Secretary Khalid Mumin. He was formerly superintendent of the Lower Merion and Reading School Districts. The full Senate subsequently affirmed the pick, voting 46-3 to confirm Mumin.

The three holdouts were all Republicans: Jarrett Coleman (Bucks and Lehigh), Doug Mastriano (Adams and Franklin), and John DiSanto (Dauphin County).

Coleman and Mastriano did not respond to requests for comment on their votes. DiSanto, meanwhile, said Mumin is too firmly embedded in an education system needing change.

“Pennsylvania ranks 8th nationally in per-student education spending, yet we lag in student achievement,” DiSanto told DVJournal. “The emphasis is always on more money when we need fundamental changes in the system.”

“The secretary has been part of that system for 25 years, and I don’t believe he’s capable of or interested in making the reforms needed,” he added.

Mumin began teaching in 1997. Shapiro tapped him for the acting secretary post in January, shortly before the governor’s inauguration.

The secretary won praise during his tenure as Reading superintendent. The district had been amid financial turmoil at the time of his arrival and had seen multiple superintendents in a short period. The prior director, Carlinda Purcell, had been relieved of her position after just 17 months on the job.

In 2021, the Pennsylvania Association of School Administrations selected Mumin as its Pennsylvania Superintendent of the Year, describing the significant challenges the administrator faced when he began the job.

“In 2014, when Dr. Mumin began his tenure as superintendent, he was confronted with 19 buildings of failing infrastructures, eight bargaining units without contracts for five years, and a district having little to no transparency with either staff or constituents,” the PASA said, claiming that Reading was “a district facing a financial crisis – along with a looming state takeover.”

Mumin “demonstrated visionary leadership right from the start to get the district back on a positive track and focused on academic growth and support,” the group said.

Senate Education Committee Chair Sen. Dave Argall said in a press release that the committee “performed [its] constitutional duty” in voting Mumin through.

“I look forward to working with him to improve our education system,” Argall said.

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