February 8, 2022
Harrisburg, PA ―Teach Plus Pennsylvania today issued the following statement in response to Governor Tom Wolf’s proposed budget for 2022-23, which includes nearly $2 billion in new funding for education.
“Teach Plus and Teach Plus teacher leaders are encouraged by Governor Wolf’s budget proposal, which represents a sizable down payment toward closing the $4.6 billion adequacy gap in school funding and also contains historic investments in the Level Up equity supplement, early childhood education, and elevating the teaching profession,” said Laura Boyce, Teach Plus Pennsylvania Executive Director. “With an unprecedented revenue surplus of billions of dollars, and schools facing unprecedented teacher shortages and the need to address heightened academic and social-emotional needs in the wake of the pandemic, the time is now for bold investments in Pennsylvania’s most precious resource: our children.”
The Governor’s proposal includes a $1.25 billion increase in basic education funding to all 500 school districts through the Fair Funding Formula–a much-needed increase as mandated costs for districts have risen much faster than state investments. “This funding will bring us closer to being able to provide our students the resources they deserve to help them succeed, like mental health supports, more course offerings, and smaller class sizes,” said Mike Faccinetto, a Teach Plus Senior Policy Fellow who teaches in Southern Lehigh School District and serves as school board president for the Bethlehem Area School District. “It would show all our students across Pennsylvania that their futures matter to our political leaders.”
The Governor also proposed $300 million through Level Up to support the 100 school districts furthest from adequacy, which serve a disproportionate share of the Commonwealth’s students of color, students living in poverty, students with disabilities, and English learners.Teach Plus was part of the coalition to propose and pass Level Up for the first time in the 2021-22 budget and has advocated for its inclusion again this year. “The proposed investment in Level Up is definitely needed in districts like mine, which is underfunded by $4,645 per student,” said Kyle Boyer, Teach Plus Policy Fellow from the Norristown Area School District, one of the Level Up districts. “As the funding lawsuit has shown, students in the most underfunded districts are being denied their constitutional right to a ‘thorough and efficient’ education. Level Up represents a major step toward equity and addressing the needs of the poorest districts, and it is a necessary part of any final budget.”
The proposed budget would devote $70 million to early childhood education through expansion of the Pre-K Counts and Head Start Supplemental Assistance programs, along with over $100 million to support affordable child care. “Research shows that funding early learning is one of the smartest investments policymakers can make, with benefits for children that last a lifetime,” said Brieanne Rice, Teach Plus Policy Fellow and early childhood educator at JB’s Bright Beginnings in Irwin. “These increases will allow centers like mine to offer affordable and high-quality child care and pre-K to more children, setting them up for success for the rest of their lives.”
Finally, the proposal takes steps to make teaching a more valued and affordable profession by raising the minimum teacher salary to $45,000 and devoting $200 million toward scholarships to state colleges with a focus on professions like teaching and nursing. “These measures will show our teachers they are valued and reduce financial barriers to entering the profession that disproportionately impact teachers of color,” said Yazmin Dalsimer, Teach Plus Policy Fellow and teacher at Catalyst Academy Charter Schools in Pittsburgh.
As the General Assembly debates the Governor’s proposed budget, Teach Plus calls on legislators to seize this historic moment to continue to invest in Pennsylvania’s students from pre-K through college and create and create a Commonwealth where education opportunity is available to all children regardless of race, place, or income.
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. Since 2009, Teach Plus has trained thousands of teacher leaders across the country who are driving policy changes and improving the instructional practices of teachers to create an education system driven by equity, access, and excellence for all students. teachplus.org