Continued investment needed to adequately meet the needs of PA’s children
February 9, 2016
Deborah Gordon Klehr, Executive Director of the Education Law Center-PA, issued the following statement regarding Governor Wolf’s Budget Address:
“We applaud Governor Wolf’s continued attempts to provide desperately needed resources to Pennsylvania’s schoolchildren. Years of state cuts to education spending and one-time fixes have disproportionately negatively impacted students in our poorest communities.
“Governor Wolf’s proposal to increase basic education funding levels by $200 million for the next fiscal year, in addition to his continued work toward a $377 million basic education funding increase this year, would allow schools across Pennsylvania to begin restoring critical programs and supports to classrooms. His proposal to increase early childhood and special education funding further reflects the need to invest in the Commonwealth’s most vulnerable children.
“Furthermore, we appreciate the governor’s continued commitment to a bipartisan formula that directs state education funding to the students and districts that need it most. Pennsylvania’s school funding system is the most inequitable in the country. Years of inadequate and inequitable funding have forced many school districts to eliminate programs, lay off teachers, and reduce academic support for students. The new funding formula is an important first step to ensuring that all students have access to meaningful educational opportunities.
“But even as the governor is proposing new education funding for the upcoming fiscal year, negotiations to ensure increased education funding in this year’s budget have dragged on for an unconscionably long period of time. The governor and legislative leaders must finally end our state’s budget crisis by approving a long-term solution to give Pennsylvania’s children the tools they need to succeed.
“Yet even if the governor’s proposal is approved by the General Assembly, it is only a down payment toward providing Pennsylvania’s children with the thorough and efficient education system they are guaranteed by our state Constitution. Two years of increased education funding will not be enough to correct the vast disparities between our poorest and wealthiest districts. We need a sustainable, equitable, and predictable school funding system to give all children the education they need, regardless of ZIP code, income, or race.”
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The Education Law Center-PA (“ELC”) is a non-profit, legal advocacy organization dedicated to ensuring that all children in Pennsylvania have access to a quality public education. Through legal representation, impact litigation, trainings, and policy advocacy, ELC advances the rights of vulnerable children, including children living in poverty, children of color, children in the foster care and juvenile justice systems, children with disabilities, English language learners, and children experiencing homelessness.
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