We can't have good schools on the cheap
Employers want PA to invest in schools and career and technical learning programs
House Republicans passed a budget bill in April that respects the governor's funding requests for basic and special education, but is missing support for other programs vital to quality schools and successful students.
Republican budgets earlier this decade stripped $1 billion in state support for public schools across Pennsylvania and most of those school districts and their students are still trying to recover.
Skimping on -- or ignoring completely -- the tools and support services that help students prepare to learn and teachers prepare to teach simply doubles down on the mistakes Republicans made in the past.
The House Republican budget bill underfunds Gov. Wolf's request for pre-K and early childhood education increases. Making quality early childhood learning accessible to more children in Pennsylvania ensures they arrive at elementary school ready to learn, increases academic success in later grades, and even boosts career success and income later in life. And, it supports working parents. That's why House Democrats were already encouraging the governor to include the increases in his budget last year.
The House Republican budget bill zeroes out Pennsylvania's safe schools initiative. Students who are distracted in school by the threat of violence, harassment or discrimination cannot concentrate in class and often struggle academically.
The Republican budget bill fails to support the governor's school breakfast initiative. Academic success is vital to breaking the cycle of poverty that has many kids trapped. Kids that spend at least half their day in school hungry can't concentrate on learning.
The Republican budget bill eliminates funding for teacher professional development. You wouldn't take your child to a dentist or doctor who's never updated his or her knowledge or training. You shouldn't have to send your child to schools where teacher training and improvement isn't encouraged and supported, either.
The Republican budget bill underfunds career and technical learning programs. This is exactly the opposite of what Pennsylvania employers have been encouraging us to do. Vocational and technical classes prepare many students who won't go on to college for the good jobs and stable careers that will support their families and ensure their financial security. And, they prepare more Pennsylvanians to take the high-skill jobs that many of today's employers have to offer but can't find people to fill.
Trying to support quality public schools on the cheap doesn't work. Have Republicans really forgot that lesson in less than a decade?
We're still early in the budget process. House Democrats will keep fighting on a bipartisan basis for public schools that work in every community and for every student.