BLOG: Fighting for a Historic Commitment to Schools That Teach
By: Megan Healey, Deputy Press Secretary
January 18, 2016
Throughout Governor Wolf’s first year, he has fought to increase funding for our schools to reverse the devastating $1 billion in cuts made to schools five years ago that led to larger class sizes, soaring property taxes, educator layoffs and the elimination or reduction of vital programs. Governor Wolf knows we must make investments to adequately and fairly fund our education system in order to lay the foundation for long-term economic growth in Pennsylvania.
Watch Governor Wolf talk about Schools That Teach in 2015.
Before he was ever sworn in, Governor Wolf and members of his cabinet launched the Schools That Teach Tour, personally visiting more than 70 schools across the commonwealth and seeing firsthand the damaging effects of what happens when the state moves funding education to the back burner, while hearing how districts plan to ensure the restored funding reaches the classroom directly.
The funding increase Governor Wolf is fighting for will benefit each of the 500 school districts in the commonwealth. Not only that, but the investment will reach the classroom directly — we know this because we asked each superintendent to submit plans for how they plan to allocate the money. Their responses were overwhelming — everything from expanding pre-k, to reducing elementary class sizes, to restoration of vital art, music, library and summer school programs, to college and career counseling. These are all valuable ways to ensure our children are getting the high-quality education they deserve, regardless of zip code.
Our investment will open up thousands of new slots for families to enroll their 3- and 4-year olds in quality early childhood programs like Pre-K Counts and Head Start — and it will provide for an increase to all state and state-related universities, as well as to Pennsylvania’s 14 community colleges.
But Republicans in the legislature continue to protect the status quo and refuse to support a compromise budget that will invest in education and begins to restore the cuts made to our schools.
In addition to fighting for a better investment in education, the Wolf Administration has also worked collaboratively with lawmakers and outside stakeholders to improve the state of Pennsylvania’s schools. Those actions include:
- The creation of an amended recovery plan for the struggling Chester Upland School District, which eliminates the district’s annual structural deficit by modifying the special education tuition rate and securing a permanent increase to the district’s basic education funding base, eliminates the district’s negative fund balance, and plans and funds capital improvements to district schools
- The naming of new chief recovery officers for both the York City School District and the Harrisburg School District
- Following a statewide drop in standardized test scores due to a new, more rigorous PSSA assessment, the implementation of a federally-approved one-year “pause” in using those scores for a School Performance Profile (SPP)
As Governor Wolf has said from the very beginning, Pennsylvania’s economy will never get stronger unless we stop making our schools weaker. Governor Wolf will continue to fight to fix our schools and improve education in Pennsylvania.
See all of our Year in Review blog posts.
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