FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
State Rep. Mike Sturla
Chairman, Democratic Policy Committee
Sturla: Pa. at a crossroads on education funding
HARRISBURG, Nov. 15 – Citing a new study released by the U.S. Department of Education showing Pennsylvania was among an elite group of states with significant student progress between 2003 and 2011, state Rep. Mike Sturla, D-Lancaster, said the Commonwealth is at a crossroads in how to fund education.
The National Assessment of Educational Progress report, which was prepared by the National Center for Education Statistics, showed that Pennsylvania was one of only eight states in the nation where fourth and eighth graders made significant progress in both reading and math.
“It is no coincidence that there were two education events in the Capitol today aiming for two very different objectives,” Sturla, chairman of the House Democratic Policy Committee, said in reference to a pro-voucher rally sponsored by the REACH Foundation and a Capitol news conference to release the results of the national study.
“On one side we have overwhelming proof that making a renewed investment in programs like early childhood education, afterschool tutoring and smaller class sizes generates positive outcomes in terms of student academic achievement; alternatively we have people who’d like to continue to underfund public education, send more taxpayer money to private and religious schools which are allowed to select only top students, and permit those schools to operate with little accountability.”
Sturla said vouchers divert money from schools that can least afford budget cuts.
“When voucher supporters claim that they are for ‘choice’ it mean schools get to choose their students -- parents don’t get to choose. Vouchers enable private and parochial schools to cherry pick the students they want, which will leave over 90 percent of students in now underfunded public schools.
“Further, there is a clear constitutional prohibition against paying for religious and private schools. Under the constitution, we as lawmakers have an obligation to fully fund public schools and that’s an obligation we fought hard to meet over the course of the past eight years.
“Now study after study has indicated that the investments we made in schools and students paid off in unprecedented academic gains. This year, the Corbett administration chose to slash education funding by a billion dollars and now wants to send hundreds of millions of dollars to private schools in the next few years.
“What our schools need is adequate funding, not an ill-advised, unproven and expensive experiment that has been shown to fail in other states.”