Unprecedented cuts to public school funding will have consequences on student achievement.
Governor Tom Corbett’s refusal to reduce unprecedented funding cuts to K-12 public education will have lasting consequences for Pennsylvania’s 1.8 million public school students. The 2011-2012 state budget includes $860 million in cuts to K-12 public education, in part because the governor insisted on maintaining more than $500 million of Pennsylvania’s growing revenue surplus in a state reserve fund.
“This is not a budget that sets our students on a path to success. How can you cut $860 million from the public schools and not expect it to impact student achievement?” PSEA President Jim Testerman said. “You can’t. These cuts have consequences. Students, their families, and local taxpayers will be the ones who feel the pain.”
Testerman pointed out that school districts in less affluent, urban areas are most impacted by the cuts. Funding cuts to school districts such as York, Harrisburg, Reading, Allentown, and Chester-Upland averaged $9.8 million, or 12.7 percent.
“Instead of providing these struggling school districts with the resources they clearly need, this budget gives them less funding than they received last year,” Testerman added. “What are the consequences? Class sizes are increasing and programs that help students learn are being eliminated.”
Testerman expressed concern that these funding cuts could reverse the marked achievement gains Pennsylvania’s public school students have posted in recent years. Pennsylvania was cited by the Center for Education Policy as recording gains in all academic categories between 2002 and 2008. On the National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) exam in reading and math, Pennsylvania’s results are among the top 10 states in the nation.
“We know that when resources are combined with excellent teaching, student achievement increases,” Testerman said. “These budget cuts jeopardize the progress our students have made.”
Testerman noted that he is mindful that other expensive, untested initiatives to privatize Pennsylvania’s public schools, like the governor’s taxpayer-funded tuition voucher plan, were not considered by the General Assembly. He also pledged that PSEA members will continue to advocate for interventions in struggling schools that are proven by research and practice to make a difference in the lives of students and their ability to achieve their full potential.
“We will continue to speak out, and insist that our elected officials invest in Pennsylvania by providing the resources necessary to prepare our students for the future that awaits them,” Testerman said.
Find local impact of the state budget cuts at www.psea.org/schoolcuts.