House Majority Leadership sound SOS on education in Centre County
Tour stop at Bald Eagle Area highlights need to Save Our Schools
BOGGS TOWNSHIP, Aug. 2 – Resources are at a premium in rural regions and state funding for rural schools needs to improve, members of the House Majority Leadership team and House Majority Policy Committee announced following a roundtable discussion and rally at Bald Eagle Area Middle and High School Wednesday.
“As we’ve visited communities around Pennsylvania, one thing is clear: every community – rural, urban or suburban – they all want the best opportunities for their students,” Speaker Joanna McClinton, D-Phila/Delaware, said. “And as a state we owe them that much. It is enshrined in our Constitution. We need to start living up to the promise we make our students and the promise we’ve made in our state’s future.”
The Policy Committee’s event in Centre County was the third in a statewide SOS tour visiting schools, talking to school administrators, educators and advocates about the need to Save Our Schools. The committee made previous stops this week in Philadelphia and Berks County.
“Put simply, if you care about children, your actions need to line up with your soundbites,” Majority Appropriations Chair Rep. Jordan Harris, D-Phila., said. “If you care about children, if you care about your neighbors, if you care about your state’s ability to attract businesses and hire skilled workers, you must fairly fund all schools. House Democrats are here with the backing of a court ruling that says we need to address inadequate funding across the state – including rural districts in and around Centre County. A child’s dreams should not be determined by the address where they go to bed at night.”
A Commonwealth Court judge ruled in February the state fell short of its constitutional obligation to students in the most underserved school districts, violating students’ rights to a “comprehensive, effective, and contemporary” education.
“House Democrats have passed a series of bills that address education issues – balancing out funding for school districts, fixing crumbling schools and stopping the abusive cyber charter school reimbursement,” Majority Policy Committee Chairman Ryan Bizzarro, D-Erie, said. “They all sit in the Senate, ignored by an indifferent group of the Harrisburg establishment who worry more about special interests than the future of our children – all of our children. It’s time to Save Our Schools. We need to demand more from our government.”
The House Majority Policy Committee participated in a roundtable discussion led by Rep. Paul Takac, D-Centre, and included administrators and officials from Bald Eagle Area, Keystone Central and Forest Area school districts.
“Now is the time to begin to more fairly fund Pennsylvania’s public schools and to invest in the communities they serve,” Takac said. “Today, we heard from administrators at Bald Eagle Area, Keystone Central and Forest Area school districts. Our rural districts are like so many others across the state in that they have big issues and real needs that reflect the challenges facing their communities as a whole. Thanks to our inequitable system of funding public education, children living in poverty, experiencing homelessness, or going hungry in rural areas often have fewer resources available to them. Mental health services are often simply not available, meaning that many of the children that need help either don’t receive it or are put on a long waiting list. We need to do better for all our children, for our rural communities, and for the future of our state.”
The February Commonwealth Court ruling noted in its conclusion, “educators credibly testified to lacking the very resources state officials have identified as essential to student achievement, some of which are as basic as safe and temperate facilities in which children can learn.”
“Things have changed, because the public is tired of the rhetoric,” Rep. Scott Conklin said. “We have a decision to make, we can either keep doing it the way we used to do it or we can fund school districts to match their needs, and I’m proud to say I’m part of a caucus that is standing up to fairly fund schools in order to help every child, educator and parent in this state.”
The Majority Leadership team will also join the Policy Committee for another tour stop at Carrick High School in Pittsburgh Thursday. More information on the Policy Committee can be found at https://www.pahouse.com/policy. Photos for publication from policy events can be found at https://www.pahouse.com/PolicyCommittee/Galleries.