Pennsylvania is Making Historic Investments in Education
July 16, 2019
Harrisburg, PA – Governor Tom Wolf joined parents, teachers and school administrators today at the Capitol to celebrate historic investments in education during the governor’s tenure. Over the past five years the governor has secured a $1.4 billion increase in education funding from pre-k through college, including nearly $800 million for basic education, $140 million for special education, and $40 million for career and technical education provided by school districts.
“Pennsylvania’s children and their future are my top priority,” said Governor Tom Wolf. “Increasing funding for public schools is investing in the lives of our children. Every Pennsylvania child deserves a great education whether they live in a big city, a growing suburb or a small rural town. Strong public schools create a well-educated and skilled workforce that will continue to attract jobs to Pennsylvania and grow the economy for everyone.”
The recently enacted state budget includes increases of $160 million for basic education, which will be distributed through a formula created in 2015 to more fairly fund school districts that need it the most. The budget also increases special education by $50 million and career and technical education by $10 million. The governor’s proposal to raise the dropout age to 18 and lower the requirement to start school to age 6 was also enacted.
“Governor Wolf has been leading the charge to increase investments in our schools and he deserves our thanks on behalf of every student throughout the state,” said Dr. Richard W. Fry, Big Spring School District Superintendent and Pennsylvania Association of School Administrators President. “The Governor has made a commitment to meet the current needs of our students while tirelessly advocating for processes and programs that move us beyond the devastating cuts undertaken prior to his term in office that negatively affected young learners throughout the Commonwealth.”
“I’m proud to stand here today with Gov. Wolf and my fellow education advocates to talk about the great progress we’ve made in funding Pennsylvania’s public schools,” said Rich Askey, president of the Pennsylvania State Education Association. “Thanks to Gov. Wolf’s leadership, public education funding has been a top priority over the past five years. We’ve made great strides in public education funding over that time.”
The budget also included the vast majority of the governor’s comprehensive plan to make Pennsylvania’s workforce the best in the nation, such as a $10 million increase to expand the innovative PAsmart initiative to $40 million. PAsmart will provide $20 million in science and technology education, $10 million for career and technology learning and $10 million for job training.
“I’m the parent of a child who receives special education services,” said Sally Canazaro, a parent from the South Middleton School District. “Over the years, the state’s share of funding for their education has fallen to 25 percent. That leaves many schools struggling to make sure every child who requires special education gets what they need to thrive, and school districts must find the dollars somewhere else in the budget. The historic $50 million increase in special education funding is critical and I am thankful for Governor Wolf’s leadership.”
Rylee Shaffer, a York County School of Technology student added, “As a welding student at the York County School of Technology, I’m so thankful that for the second year in a row, the state budget contains an increase in funding for Career & Technical Education of $10 million. This increase will give more students access to career and technical opportunities and support the purchase of new equipment that will give more students hands-on training for careers that are in demand in their communities. CTE makes students like me career-ready right out of high school – and we need to make sure every interested student in Pennsylvania can have that opportunity.”
Moving forward, the governor will continue fighting to increase education funding and for cyber and charter school reform. Pennsylvania must help school districts struggling with the problem of increasing amounts of school funding siphoned by private cyber and charter schools. Funding reform would increase transparency so all schools that receive state dollars are accountable to the taxpayers.