Wednesday, September 3, 2014

PSEA Report: Low-Income Students Hit Hardest by Education Cut

September 3, 2014 - Tom Joseph, Public News Service (PA)

PHOTO: A new report from the state's largest public employees' union says Pennsylvania schools with the fewest resources have taken the biggest hits in terms of state education cuts. Photo credit: George Hodan/Publicdomainpictures.net.
PHOTO: A new report from the state's largest public employees' union says Pennsylvania schools with the fewest resources have taken the biggest hits in terms of state education cuts. Photo credit: George Hodan/Publicdomainpictures.net.
HARRISBURG, Pa. - The impact of budget cuts on education in Pennsylvania is being felt in schools across the state - but most notably in districts with the highest needs and lowest incomes, according to a new report from the Pennsylvania State Education Association.

PSEA president Michael Crossey said the findings reinforce evidence that the fallout from trimming $1 billion from education during the Corbett administration includes drops in reading and math scores on state tests across all schools in grades 3 through 6.

"In the years right before Gov. Corbett took office, funding for education was up 39 percent and test scores went up 54 percent," Crossey said. "Now, we're looking at school funding is down significantly, and we're starting to see drops in test scores. There is a correlation."

Corbett has defended education cuts, blaming a multi-billion-dollar budget shortfall that existed when he took office.

Crossey said a major stumbling block for education in Pennsylvania is the lack of a formal blueprint on how education dollars are divided among districts.

"We need to create a funding formula for our schools that, one, drives more adequacy to funding; and also, we need to talk about more equitable funding," he said.

Crossey said the report concluded that the Corbett approach to funding has undermined progress made in education in Pennsylvania. He said he believes future strategies should work to reverse that trend.

"We need to, as a state, decide that we're going to educate every child," Crossey said. "No matter how poor they are, they deserve an education and they deserve a chance at a good life, no matter where they live."

The report also found cuts to the most impoverished school districts averaged three times the size of cuts to higher-income districts, and that the student-to-teacher ratios are higher in the poorest districts as well.

The full report is online at psea.org.

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