Pennsylvania Students Benefiting from Historic Education Investments
August 21, 2019
Brookhaven, PA – Governor Tom Wolf joined students, parents, teachers, and school administrators today in Delaware County to celebrate Pennsylvania’s historic investments in education during the governor’s tenure. Over the past five years the governor has secured an additional $1.4 billion in funding for pre-k through college, including nearly $800 million for basic education, $140 million for special education, and $40 million for career and technical education.
“There’s no better investment we can make than ensuring our children get a quality public education,” said Governor Wolf. “Pennsylvania’s children and their future have been my top priority over the past five years, and I will continue to fight for them.
“Every student – from our big cities to the growing suburbs and small towns – needs and deserves a great education. 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 governor signed a state budget in June with 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, and $50 million for special education. The governor’s proposal to raise the dropout age to 18 and lower the requirement to start school to age 6 starting next year was also enacted.
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 education (CTE), and $10 million for industry partnerships and job training.
“For far too long, the legislature has been failing to fund Pennsylvania public schools adequately, leaving local taxpayers to make up the difference,” said Donna Cooper, Executive Director of Public Citizens for Children and Youth. “Our communities are seeing real and increased demand for special education services, CTE training, and counseling for students in crisis. While we are thankful for steady increases over the Governor’s tenure, we need more in the future. The Legislature must follow the Governor’s lead and dramatically increase basic education funding next year and beyond to ensure that all our students can have a bright future.”
“I was happy that this year’s state budget contained an increase in funding for career and technical education for the second year in a row,” said Nikolas Stamper. “Some of these additional funds will help me and my classmates studying building trades at Delaware County Technical High School and help to provide hands-on training for students like us across Pennsylvania. With CTE, we can graduate high school with in-demand job training. More young Pennsylvanians should have this opportunity.”
“In recent years, the state’s share of funding for special education has fallen to just 25 percent while demand has risen,” said Jasmine Poole, parent of a special education student. “This means that many school districts are struggling to provide what special education students need to not only get by in public education, but to thrive. I am thankful for Governor Wolf’s leadership in securing a historic $50 million increase in special education funding that will help to ensure that families like mine aren’t an afterthought, but at the forefront of Pennsylvania’s public education system.”
The governor was joined by education stakeholders at Coebourn Elementary School in Brookhaven. The Penn-Delco School District is in southeastern Pennsylvania and has approximately 3,400 k-12 students.
“Ensuring that Pennsylvania makes its necessary investments in public education is a bipartisan and common aim that is easy to agree upon,” said Superintendent George Steinhoff from the Penn-Delco School District. “Improving the workforce, improving local economies, improving achievement outcomes, increasing property values, and decreasing the burden of property taxes are common sense goals that are met when states commit to properly funding public education systems. In the process, they meet the responsibility of ensuring that every child is prepared to make a positive contribution to our future.”
Addressing Pennsylvania’s flawed and outdated charter school law, the governor last week announced he was taking executive action, overhauling regulations, and will propose legislation to comprehensively reform the law. Pennsylvania’s charter school law is known as the worst in the nation. The governor’s reforms will strengthen charter school quality, accountability and transparency to control costs and improve outcomes for students.