REBUILDING FROM A DISASTER
Pennsylvania is experiencing a catastrophe that is causing serious lags in our economy, personal and professional delays, and lots of stress and frustration requiring massive government intervention.
Nope…it’s not the collapse of I-95. It’s the massive underfunding of our public education system.
The deadly accident brought U.S. Transportation Secretary Buttigieg, Governor Shapiro, and Mayor Kenney together quickly with a pledge to do whatever it takes to rebuild. “There’s no question in my mind that all of the resources that PennDot needs federally will be available,” said Sec. Buttigieg. Governor Shapiro issued a disaster declaration to unlock federal dollars.
This is the proper response to a crisis that hurts our economy, weakens the supply chain, and delays people from reaching their destination – fast action, money, and political will. Sadly, the chronic underfunding of PA’s public schools that has created a disaster for our children doesn’t get the same attention.
The Commonwealth Court rang the alarm this year when it ruled that the state fails “to provide all students with access to a comprehensive, effective, and contemporary system of public education that will give them a meaningful opportunity to succeed academically, socially, and civically.” But, unlike the nonpartisan quick action to rebuild I-95, our education funding remains in rubble.
Governor Shapiro’s education budget plan included a modest increase in education funding, just enough to cover inflationary costs and simply not nearly enough to rebuild our children’s education foundation. The House passed a budget bill that takes seriously the need for additional investment by putting $1 billion for education on the table and an additional $250 million to begin to repair crumbling schools.
Now it’s up to the Senate to pass its budget bill but the state senate majority leader has already dismissed the House plan as “an impossible number,” even though PA has $11.5 billion in reserves. And, just yesterday, 18 Republican senators cosponsored a bill to create an education voucher program, siphoning state dollars away from public schools. That’s like filling the I-95 construction vehicles with less fuel and still expecting them to run faster and farther.
Such maneuverings to stall the reconstruction of I-95 would be unthinkable. Let’s not let it happen in Harrisburg. Our statewide coalition, PA Schools Work, is calling on constituents from all corners of the state to contact their lawmakers to close the opportunity gap for PA students. You can do you part to rebuild PA’s broken education funding system here.