Every child in Pennsylvania – no matter where they live – has the right to a public education that prepares them for college or a career. Unfortunately, that isn’t what many students across the commonwealth are getting. In fact, wealthier districts in Pennsylvania have, on average, $4,800 more to spend per student than other districts, one of the widest gaps in the country.
State legislators have ignored their constitutional mandate by underfunding our schools – hurting students and leaving the burden of funding gaps to local districts, often causing higher property taxes for residents.
As they begin to negotiate the 2022-23 budget in the coming weeks, lawmakers must recognize that our schools are billions short of what is needed. Class sizes are too large, school materials are out of date, and school staff are leaving the profession in droves. Now is the time to invest tax dollars in the future of the state’s children and support schools in doing their job to prepare students for real world jobs and college.
Gov. Tom Wolf has proposed a $1.75 billion increase for K-12 funding. That kind of bold investment is a respectable down payment on what we owe our kids in the short term. Now is the time to act.
Mike Faccinetto is president of the Bethlehem Area School Board and a fifth-grade teacher in Southern Lehigh School District. He lives in Bethlehem.