Budget Statement: Now more than ever, PA must invest in students and schools

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Budget Statement: Now more than ever, PA must invest in students and schools

For further information contact:
Chris Lilienthal (717) 255-7134
David Broderic (717) 255-7169

HARRISBURG, PA (Feb. 8, 2022) – Gov. Tom Wolf today unveiled his proposed 2022-23 budget.

The plan includes education funding increases of:

  • $1.25 billion for K-12 basic education funding;
  • $300 million for Level Up funding for the state’s 100 most underfunded school districts;
  • $200 million for special education funding;
  • $60 million for Pre-K Counts;
  • $10 million for the Head Start Supplemental Program; and
  • $200 million for the Nellie Bly Scholarship for students attending Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education schools.

“We commend the governor for his ongoing commitment to public education,” PSEA President Rich Askey said. “There is nothing more important than investing in our schools and students, and, this year, Gov. Wolf has proposed another ambitious funding increase for public education.

“Over the past seven years, Gov. Wolf has been a true champion of public education as he has worked with lawmakers to secure historic investments in our schools. We are pleased to see that this budget continues to reflect that priority.

“As we move forward from this pandemic, our schools will continue to face serious challenges and will need adequate resources to keep students on track academically, address student mental health needs, and confront an educator shortage that is reaching crisis levels. There is no doubt that educators and support professionals are working harder than ever. Increasing state funding for public education will help support their incredible work during a very difficult time.

“Pennsylvania is in the throes of an educator shortage, and this budget will help school districts address this crisis. It includes more than enough funding to increase starting salaries for educators in every school district, and it creates a new scholarship opportunity that will help attract more teachers to the classroom. Just as important, the funding increases the governor has proposed will allow school districts to hire more school psychologists, social workers, counselors, and nurses to improve the mental health and emotional well-being of students.

“We look forward to working with Gov. Wolf and lawmakers to get school funding increases that will help students learn and support the educators and support professionals who are working so hard to teach and serve them.”

Addressing the Educator Shortage by Raising Starting Salaries for Educators

“In a state where the minimum educator salary is still $18,500, increasing starting salaries for educators is long past due,” Askey said. “With Pennsylvania suffering from an educator shortage that is reaching crisis levels, there is no better time than now to make sure that teachers in our state can begin their careers with fair and competitive salaries.

“Raising starting salaries will help educators who are struggling and encourage more talented young people to enter this profession and stick with it. That is exactly what we need right now, and we are eager to work with Gov. Wolf and lawmakers to get this done.”

Addressing the Educator Shortage by Reducing the Cost of a Teaching Degree

“Pennsylvania is facing an unprecedented shortage of educators and school employees,” Askey said. “This is a true crisis, and we need to act now to attract more people to the teaching profession.

“One way policymakers can do this is by reducing one of the biggest barriers to the profession — the cost of getting a teaching degree.

“Adopting the governor’s proposed Nellie Bly Scholarship for students attending Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education schools is an excellent strategy to attract more young people to pursue careers in education. 

“College graduates in Pennsylvania have the third highest average student loan debt in the nation, averaging $39,375 for members of the graduating class of 2020, according to the Project on Student Debt at the Institute for College Access and Success.

“Staggering levels of debt present a real barrier to attracting talented young graduates to the education profession, especially teachers of color. Pennsylvania trails most states in this area. While students of color make up 36% of Pennsylvania’s public school students, teachers of color comprise only 6% of the educator workforce, according to Research for Action.

“As we aim to resolve the overall educator shortage, Pennsylvania must focus on educator diversity.”

An affiliate of the National Education Association, PSEA represents about 178,000 active and retired educators and school employees, student teachers, higher education staff, and health care workers in Pennsylvania.