Public opinion survey supports K-12 education funding in state budget
PSEA renewed the call on the General Assembly to resolve the impasse on the state budget, but urged lawmakers not to balance the budget on the backs of students.
Using federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act dollars to replace state funds for basic education would not only circumvent the purpose of these dollars -- to save jobs, support school districts and advance reforms -- but would also reverse the meaningful funding reforms that the General Assembly supported in recent years.
By not moving forward with the funding reforms of last year and cutting state support, the General Assembly will be forcing educational program cuts and property tax increases across the Commonwealth for years into the future.
A Quinnipiac University poll released July 21 reaffirmed Pennsylvanians' support for public schools, Testerman expressed confidence that the General Assembly will succeed in finding the means to fully fund basic education. Asked if they would be willing to pay more taxes to protect specific state spending, a majority of the respondents said they would, in order to protect healthcare and public schools from cuts.
The Quinnipiac poll of 1,173 Pennsylvania voters asked the question: “Would you be willing or unwilling to pay more in state taxes to avoid cuts in state spending on such things as healthcare and public schools?” The responses were 53 percent willing, 43 percent unwilling, and 4 percent don’t know/unsure. For more on the Quinnipiac poll, go to: www.quinnipiac.edu/polling.xml.
“The men and women who work hard in our public schools are honored by the response of Pennsylvania's citizens," Testerman said. “The Quinnipiac poll confirms once again that Pennsylvanians value public education and support an increased state investment in K-12 funding. Pennsylvania citizens don’t want the General Assembly to turn back the clock on school funding, as has been proposed by Republican legislators.”
Testerman said he hoped the poll results would put an end to versions of a spending plan supported by some legislators would turn back the clock to 2005-06 levels of state funding, then “backfill” to current levels of spending using federal economic stimulus monies intended to invest in education.
The Republican-backed plan would also count as increases federal Title I and special education funds that in reality are restricted to certain uses and not available to all students and schools.
Nearly a third of all Pennsylvania students attend schools where Title I funds cannot be used. Ten percent of all districts receive no Title I stimulus funds. One in four schools (enrolling 495,000 students) are not eligible to receive Title I funds.
“Cuts to funds intended to help students prepare for college and the workplace will not help our economy recover,” said Testerman. “During this difficult economic time we need to recognize that, more than ever, our schools need the resources to help all children achieve.”
The General Assembly’s own study in November 2007 found that Pennsylvania public schools were under funded by $4.3 billion.
PSEA and the National Education Association are sponsoring a television ad in markets across the state. The television ad, available at www.savepaschools.org, reminds viewers that children are the future, and shortchanging public education turns back the clock on Pennsylvania schools.