By Emily Laov, Andrea Ngiela and Razan Osman
Ed Neilson is the state representative for the 174th Legislative District.
Since 2012, he has done a wonderful job of accurately representing the Rhawnhurst and Northeast areas.
Neilson has been extremely active, sponsoring over 1,500 bills in the 2017-2018 session alone. Of these 1,500, he has been the prime sponsor for several dozen of them, offering short and effective memorandums that not only clarify his reasoning for the bill but often present research from trustworthy institutions that support his stance.
Many of the bills that Neilson has introduced are centered around public school reform. As students of the School District of Philadelphia, we were most interested in this topic. The school district is often under fire from both students and teachers, so we greatly appreciate how he acknowledges the need for change.
Neilson focuses especially on safety, with several bills dealing with training both staff and students in emergency medical attention. This includes requiring a number of AEDs (automatic external defibrillators) and AED-trained staff in schools, as well as adding CPR training to the curriculum of high school health classes. Neilson also has concerns for student pedestrians and has been the prime sponsor for a bill that enhances the safety of school zones. In his memorandum, he gives a very specific list of how he would achieve this: he suggests putting more regulation on the maintenance of the school zones and giving harsher punishments for those who disobey school bus stop signs, among other proposals.
We agree with Neilson that schools should be much safer. Many of us spend much of our childhood and teenage life in these public schools, so safety is imperative. His steps toward securing the safety of Philadelphia’s students are appreciated, but we believe that Neilson should begin to introduce bills that are more relevant to current concerns — school shootings.
Based on past votes, Neilson appears to be generally in favor of gun control reform. However, this stance is unclear, as Neilson himself has yet to be the prime sponsor for any bill that relates to gun control, despite being on the committee of game and fisheries. Without any public statements that explicitly explain his stance, we are unsure if or how he plans to take real action against gun violence.
Neilson is an incredibly active representative who has clear passions and is quite open about them. He does his research in order to support his stances and gives plausible and specific solutions. Though his hard work is greatly appreciated, we would like for him to be more transparent in other areas, such as gun control, that he has yet to give his definitive stance on. ••
Emily, Andrea and Razan are seniors at Julia R. Masterman High School. In their social sciences class, they have been assigned a project to write an op-ed on their local state representative.