Setting the Record Straight about PA School Funding Cuts

Authored by Sharon Ward, originally published in the Patriot-News and

Research is clear that student performance improves with smaller class sizes, rigorous programs, and qualified teachers. Yet since 2011 Pennsylvania has done the opposite, enacting cuts that have increased class sizes, eliminated enrichment programs, and taken tens of thousands of teachers, guidance counselors, and aides out of the classroom.

Gene Barr of the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry offers a misleading picture of school funding in his Oct. 24 letter ("Teachers union is wrong; Corbett didn't cut $1 billion from education"). Fully half the school cuts enacted in 2011 came from programs that did not have a single dollar of federal stimulus funds. For the other half, it was not unreasonable for school districts or parents to expect that temporary federal funds would be replaced with state funds as they were for prisons and health care programs.

Meanwhile, school costs for special education, energy, construction, and pensions are rising, and the education cuts have still not been restored.

A spring poll found a large number of Pennsylvanians are worried that their schools are in crisis, and they favor investing more in education over new corporate tax breaks.

Businesses and families have a common goal. It’s time to get beyond assigning blame and get back to the task of ensuring excellence in Pennsylvania’s public school system.

Sharon Ward
Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center