Schweyer statement on Basic Education Funding Commission report

HARRISBURG, Jan. 11 – Majority Chairman of the House Education Committee and member of the Basic Education Funding Commission, state Rep. Peter Schweyer, D-Lehigh, released the following statement today regarding the commission’s report on Pennsylvania’s education funding:

“Our goal was clear even before the Commonwealth Court decision – every kid in Pennsylvania deserves access to a quality education regardless of where they live. And for far too long, too many kids were being left behind.

“The commission traveled across the commonwealth from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh with many stops in between. We heard from hundreds of superintendents, professional educators, think tanks and researchers about all the ways we can improve our system of education. However, the most important stories I took to heart were the stories of two students from an urban school district whose teachers often leave to more lucrative jobs in suburban districts.

“These two kids would tell me stories of not having heat in their buildings and classrooms which do not have anything close to modern technology. Their stories were the ones that mattered most to me because those two students are my daughters who happen to attend the Allentown School District. Despite of all of the best efforts of the teachers and professionals at ASD, they can never outrun the fact that they are chronically underfunded.

“I refuse to improve districts like mine at the expense of neighboring ones, rather I want to make sure that my kids and kids like mine across Pennsylvania have the same opportunities as those from higher-spending school districts.

“Today’s report that was approved by the majority of BEFC members would provide adequacy, equity, and stability for all our school districts. It means more books, better technology, and more teachers into the classrooms. It also means new school buildings and renovated classrooms. Lastly, it means more money in the pockets of Pennsylvanians living in the high tax areas of the commonwealth.

“We are investing $5 billion per year to level the playing field for districts being left behind.  We are delivering a billion-dollar property tax cut for homeowners in districts where the burden has hit them the hardest.  And we are recognizing the massive costs of construction and major renovations cannot simply be absorbed by districts by creating a new funding method that invests in our commonwealth while investing in our kids.

“One final note: even though I may have disagreed with the report put forth by the Republicans, they came to the table in good faith and an understanding of the importance of ensuring all Pennsylvania children have access to the same equitable education and opportunities. I have and will continue to enjoy an honest exchange of ideas and look for opportunities for consensus on key issues with my friends from across the aisle,” said Schweyer.