FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Teach Plus Commits to Rallying Support in the General Assembly for a Historic Multiyear Commitment to Create a Constitutional School Funding System and Strong Educator Workforce
Harrisburg, PA, February 6, 2024 — Today, Governor Josh Shapiro proposed a budget for 2024-25 that, if passed, would transform Pennsylvania’s public education system and deliver life-changing opportunities to the children of the commonwealth, particularly those in low-wealth communities. Teach Plus applauds the governor’s bold and visionary proposal, and commits to working alongside the governor and members of the General Assembly to ensure bipartisan support for this giant leap forward toward an excellent and equitable public education system.
“As Governor Shapiro said in his address, this year we have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to do right by our kids,” said Laura Boyce, Pennsylvania Executive Director of Teach Plus. “At the one-year anniversary of the Commonwealth Court decision declaring Pennsylvania’s current school funding unconstitutional, the governor has chosen to meet this moment with bold leadership, proposing an investment of $1.8 billion as the down payment on a multiyear commitment outlined by the Basic Education Funding Commission to bring our system into constitutional compliance. The governor is making good on his commitment to fully fund our public schools and bring real opportunity to kids in Pennsylvania, and we will be fighting alongside him to ensure these commitments are passed into law in this year’s budget.”
“In my social studies classroom, my students study pivotal turning points in the past and the choices leaders made to bend the arc of history toward justice,” said Nick DiCarolis, Teach Plus Pennsylvania Policy Fellow, teacher at Penn Hills Charter School in Pittsburgh, and New Kensington-Arnold school board member. “The governor’s prioritization of education today is a historic first step toward strengthening Pennsylvania’s public education system and economy, and it will benefit students not only in southwestern Pennsylvania but all across the commonwealth.”
The governor’s proposal calls for $872 million to address the first year of the adequacy and equity components of the Basic Education Funding Commission’s plan, along with $200 million in basic education funding to all 500 districts, with recommended updates to reduce volatility and improve predictability and stability of funding. The plan also calls for an additional $50 million in special education, $300 million in school facilities, and $33 million in early childhood education investments. It proposes right-sizing cyber charter funding with a flat statewide rate that would save taxpayers $262 million annually. And it calls for significant investments in addressing teacher shortages and strengthening the educator workforce, as Teach Plus has called for, through a $10 million investment in educator talent recruitment and $15 million for student teacher stipends.
“As a teacher in one of the plaintiff school districts in the school funding case, I’ve seen firsthand the effects of underfunding on my students,” said Afia Lewis, Teach Plus Pennsylvania Senior Policy Fellow and teacher in the William Penn School District. “These historic investments are long overdue and will allow my students to fulfill their God-given potential. I’ll be fighting alongside Governor Shapiro to ensure these game-changing investments are made to benefit my students and public school students all across Pennsylvania.”
The governor’s budget proposal is a critical step, but not the final one, in bringing Pennsylvania’s public school funding system into constitutional compliance. Next, the General Assembly must pass a budget by June 30 that puts the governor’s proposed education investments into the 2024-25 budget bill and accompanying legislation that commits the state to a seven-year schedule to fully close the funding gap. Teach Plus teachers and staff look forward to mobilizing students, teachers, parents, and community members across the commonwealth to get this proposal off the finish line, and we look forward to working with Governor Shapiro and legislative leaders to make the constitutional promise a reality for all Pennsylvania’s students.
About Teach Plus
The mission of Teach Plus is to empower excellent, experienced, and diverse teachers to take leadership over key policy and practice issues that affect their students’ success. In pursuing our mission, Teach Plus is guided by our Student Opportunity Mandate: All students should have the opportunity to achieve their potential in an education system defined by its commitment to equity, its responsiveness to individual needs, and its ability to prepare students for postsecondary success. Since 2009, Teach Plus has developed thousands of teacher leaders across the country to exercise their leadership in shaping education policy and improving teaching and learning for students. Teachplus.org
Contact: Laura Boyce, firstname.lastname@example.org, 215-429-5151