Basic Education Funding Commission’s Majority Plan, If Enacted, Would Transform Education in Pennsylvania
Harrisburg, PA, January 12, 2024 — Yesterday, the Basic Education Funding Commission, charged with reforming Pennsylvania’s school funding system in light of a recent Commonwealth Court ruling, released its final report, recommending major new investments in state funding for education to address the inadequacy and inequity that made the current system unconstitutional. Teach Plus applauds Governor Josh Shapiro and the commission for their leadership and vision in this game-changing step forward, and urges the General Assembly to enact the plan laid out in the majority report.
“As Governor Shapiro stated, our elected leaders have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity this year to do right by kids and fully fund our schools,” said Teach Plus Pennsylvania Policy Manager Zakiya Stewart. “We commend the governor and the commission for meeting this moment with a bold and ambitious plan that, if enacted, will change the lives of students across Pennsylvania, especially those in low-wealth and underfunded districts.”
The report calls for $6 billion of additional spending over the next seven years to allow all districts to adequately fund their public schools and to provide tax equity for high-tax-effort districts. It also calls for more than $2 billion in facilities funding over seven years, at least $200 million per year in new basic education funding to all 500 districts, and investments in the educator workforce, including fully funding the newly-established student teacher stipend program and creating new incentives and programs to attract new educators, such as teacher scholarships.
“As I testified before the commission, if we want to see improved student achievement, economic growth, and a strong workforce in Pennsylvania, investing in adequate and equitable educational opportunities for all Pennsylvania’s students is the best investment we as taxpayers can make,” said Laura Boyce, Teach Plus Pennsylvania Executive Director. “We’re encouraged that the commission adopted our recommendations to make adequacy an explicit goal of our funding system, and that they agreed that school funding increases must be paired with additional investments in rebuilding our teacher pipeline and workforce in order to be effective.”
“The investments proposed by the Basic Education Funding Commission would be truly life-changing for students in my district,” said Kristen Haase, a Teach Plus Senior Policy Fellow and School District of Lancaster teacher who testified before the commission in Lancaster. “My multilingual learners are full of potential, but for too long they have been denied the resources they need to be successful. The commission’s report sends a clear message to my students that they matter and that their futures are worth investing in.”
The issuance of the commission’s report is not the final step in bringing Pennsylvania’s public school funding system into constitutional compliance. Next, Governor Shapiro must propose a budget on Feb. 6 in line with the report’s first-year recommendations. Finally, the General Assembly must pass a budget by June 30 that puts the commission’s plan into action and sets clear funding targets for subsequent years to fully close the funding gap.
While the report did not win unanimous approval from the commission, Teach Plus is encouraged that all members of the commission agreed that current state funding for public schools is inadequate, that the General Assembly must adopt an adequacy model in its next budget, and that investments in the educator workforce must be included alongside investments to close adequacy shortfalls. We know that legislators of both parties share our belief that all students deserve adequate and equitable educational opportunities. Teach Plus teachers across Pennsylvania, alongside our advocacy partners in the PA Schools Work coalition, are ready to mobilize parents, students, and taxpayers across the commonwealth to build bipartisan support for this proposal in the upcoming budget. 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