Tom Wolf knows that to rebuild our middle class and strengthen Pennsylvania's economy, we must provide every child with a world-class education that equips them with the skills to succeed in the 21st century. To do this, the commonwealth needs a leader who will ensure that every school is held to the same high standards, is funded appropriately, and graduates students with the skills needed to go on to college or enter the workforce.
Tom Wolf is a major supporter of our state's public education system, and he knows that Pennsylvania is home to some of the best public schools in the country. His two daughters attended York County public schools, where they developed a strong academic foundation that prepared them to go on to top-notch colleges and build successful careers. But he also knows that there is still a lot of work to be done.
Pennsylvania needs a leader who will work tirelessly to make sure that every child, regardless of his or her zip code, receives the best possible education. As governor, Tom Wolf will restore Governor Corbett's $1 billion in cuts to education, implement a fair funding formula, and institute reforms to help local school districts innovate and improve student performance.
This is because he believes that we have not only a constitutional obligation to provide for a thorough and efficient public education system but also a moral obligation to ensure that our youngest residents receive an education that will allow them to reach their full potential.
Tom also believes Pennsylvania should extend the notion of basic education to include universal pre-K, because too much of the battle for educational achievement is lost before our children enter kindergarten.
As governor, Tom Wolf will fight everyday to build a strong public education system so that we can keep, create, and attract good jobs right here in Pennsylvania.
Governor Corbett's Funding Games
Governor Corbett's failed education policies have caused too many parents to worry about dropping their kids off at overcrowded and understaffed schools. And too many young people are denied opportunity to succeed and reach the middle class, not because of lack of effort or intelligence, but because of where they live and the quality and funding of their local school system.
The current way of funding schools in Pennsylvania shortchanges too many school districts and the students in those communities, and Governor Corbett's more than $1 billion in education cuts have only made the problem worse.
All schoolchildren in the Commonwealth should have access to a world-class education, but without real funding reform and a governor focused on making education a priority, too many property tax payers are being squeezed, and too many children are headed to schools that lack the resources and staff need for high-quality classroom instruction.
Governor Corbett's funding cuts have removed more than 20,000 teachers from the classroom, caused 70% of school districts to increase class sizes, led 19 school districts to eliminate full-day kindergarten, left 56% of students without access to a full-time librarian, and forced communities all across the state to raise property taxes.
And the state's funding system -- or lack thereof -- creates winners and losers depending on the income levels of individual school districts and the ability of state legislative delegations to bring education funds back to their districts.
The combination of funding inequities and Governor Corbett slashing education funding have led many local communities to become increasingly reliant on raising property taxes, which adds an additional burden on seniors on a fixed income and hard-working Pennsylvanians.
Pennsylvania is one of only three states in the entire country that does not use a funding formula for distributing state education dollars to local school districts, and is far below the national average in terms of percentage of state funding -- contributing only 32%.
According to the Education Law Center, this had led to a large funding inequality where on an annual average, high-poverty schools spend "$3,000 less per student compared to wealthy schools. This adds up to a funding gap of $75,000 per classroom of 25 students."
It's simply unacceptable that a freshman in one district might have larger class sizes, older textbooks, and a neglected high school simply because his or her state representative is also a freshman or a member of the wrong party.
To make matters worse, many parents and seniors in underfunded districts are now facing increased property taxes and schools that barely have enough staff to safely open. We must do better for our children and for Pennsylvania taxpayers by developing a funding formula that is equitable, transparent, and holds districts accountable.
Instituting a Fair Funding Formula
The key to good jobs and a secure middle class is a strong public education system. But for Pennsylvania to get to a place where every school is doing an exemplary job of educating students, the State needs to increase its share of funding, with the ultimate goal of covering 50 percent of the costs. By increasing funding, we can help alleviate the tax burden on local property owners, and ensure that students have access to the tools and resources needed to succeed in school.
But we need to make sure that these additional funds are spent in the most efficient, effective, and transparent manner possible. That's why, as governor, Tom Wolf will institute a funding formula.
He will start with a costing out study to determine the true costs of a high-quality education. In addition to a nationally competitive base rate, the funding formula will tie additional funds to district size, poverty levels, local tax efforts, and student makeup. This formula will:
- Lead to increases in state funding, which will help alleviate the tax burden on property owners;
- Ensure that state funds are distributed in an equitable, transparent, and predictable manner so that school district leaders have the ability to plan for the long term; and
- Incentivize school districts to develop innovative programs that improve student achievement.
In addition to creating a fair funding formula to guide the distribution of state funds to traditional public schools, Tom Wolf will also implement fair funding formulas for brick-and-mortar and cyber charter schools.
Tom Wolf knows that we all have a stake in the quality of the education our children receive because it's the key to good jobs and a secure middle class. And he will fight everyday to build a world-class public education system so that we can keep, create, and attract good jobs right here in Pennsylvania.
Read more about Tom's plan for a fair funding formula >>>
Reforming Pennsylvania's Charter School Sector
The state's charter school sector is one piece of our public education system. It can play an important role in introducing new and innovative teaching practices that can be expanded to local school districts.
Unfortunately, Governor Corbett and others in Harrisburg have prioritized mass expansion and deregulation of this sector over accountability and student outcomes. This is the wrong direction for public education.
As part of his education agenda, Tom Wolf will work to refocus this sector and make sure that every public school - district-run, charter, or cyber charter - is held to the same high standards.
Read more about Tom's plan to make Pennsylvania's Charter Schools work for students and taxpayers >>>