The message being fed to one and all has been that public education is the whipping boy for Gov. Tom Corbett's budget plans for two years.
There are lots of conveniently omitted facts to this "story."
First off, there's no guarantee that more education spending automatically creates a better product. Pennsylvania has doubled taxpayer spending on kindergarten through 12th grade since 1995, from $13 billion to $28 billion. But SAT scores have been flat and the state's report card from the U.S. Department of Education hasn't improved.
School districts are spending $14,000 per student on average and some as much as $25,000, but studies show no connection between the spending and student performance. As for the much-talked-about funding cuts, they actually are due mainly to the end of federal stimulus funding, which was never intended to be permanent. Gov. Corbett's proposed budget actually represents a 2 percent increase in spending on education since 2007-08, the year before the stimulus.
Statewide, public school enrollment is down by 35,510 since 2000 while staffing has increased by 35,821 since then. So the dollars spent on public education in Pennsylvania can be made to look inadequate. But a view of all the factors involved shows the state actually is being quite responsible regarding public educating spending.
While we can empathize with some of the fiscal woes our local school districts deal with, everyone needs to be careful to not just conveniently put all the blame for the struggles on the state and assume that more state funding is the only way to solve the problem. More state funding probably isn't coming so, as we've stated previously, more vision and flexibility is necessary from administrators, teachers and board members.
- Williamsport Sun-Gazette