Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett, a Republican, is running for re-election against challenger Tom Wolf, a Democrat, on Nov. 4.
The Notebook invited both candidates to submit a 1,000-word response answering our six questions about key education issues, with a focus on funding. The Wolf campaign submitted a response. The Corbett campaign declined the invitation to respond, but the Notebook has compiled other published statements from Corbett on these issues.
Gov. Corbett’s campaign declined the invitation to respond to the Notebook’s six questions. The following statement appears on the education issues page of his gubernatorial campaign website.
As a former public school teacher, Gov. Tom Corbett believes strongly in the power of education.
Gov. Corbett inherited a $4.2 billion budget deficit when he was elected governor. And worse yet, almost $1 billion in federal dollars that had been helping to fund our schools ran out.
So he moved quickly.
Thanks to Gov. Corbett’s bold steps and tight budgets, Pennsylvania’s public schools are now in a much stronger financial position to continue preparing our children for the future in the best way possible.
- Education funding for Pennsylvania’s kids has increased by more than $1 billion, since Gov. Corbett took office.
- Pennsylvania currently spends more on basic education than any other time in our state’s history, $12 billion in state funding, and ranks in the top 10 of all states for funding public education.
- Early childhood education programs have seen a budget increase of $72 million, or 24 percent. Bringing the total investment to $374 million.
- Pennsylvania has secured a $51.7 million federal Race to the Top grant for early learning education.
- The Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit program was created, which provides $50 million in tuition assistance for low-income families.
- Funding for the Educational Improvement Tax Credit Program has increased by $25 million, allowing Pennsylvania businesses to receive tax credits for contributing to scholarship programs.
- Established the “Ready to Succeed” Scholarship to provide financial assistance to middle-income students pursuing a postsecondary education.
- Paths are set for teachers to grow and improve, using the new, expanded Teacher Evaluation System process.
- Pennsylvanians can access information about the quality of their state’s schools through the comprehensive website, The School Performance Profile.
- The Pennsylvania Core Standards was adopted, which ensures that students are succeeding in core subjects that are vital within a global economy.
- Transitioned from outdated modes of testing to the rigorous Keystone Exams. These end-of-term assessments test students on critical subjects, including Algebra, Biology and the Pennsylvania Core Standards.
- The “Ready to Learn” block grant establishes that $200 million in funding will directly influence classrooms, to ensure that children are performing at their grade level in math and reading.
Governor Corbett knows that the best way for Pennsylvania to successfully compete for the jobs of the future is to make sure we have the educated workforce. And making sure we invest in our children’s education is a promise he will continue to keep.
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The Notebook’s December 2013 edition included statements from gubernatorial primary candidates in response to the questions: Do you think Pennsylvania’s current approach to K-12 education funding is fair and effective? What changes would you seek to enact as governor? Here is Gov. Corbett’s published response.
Since taking office, I have advocated for improvements to Pennsylvania’s education funding formula that would focus on funding students. In my first budget, I proposed and was pleased that the General Assembly agreed to distribute $104 million in education funding based on a student-focused funding formula that provided a base amount per student plus supplemental funding for additional factors such as poverty, English language learner concentration, district size and district wealth.
In the current state budget, $100 million was distributed to schools based on a student-focused formula that considered student enrollment as well as school district wealth. In addition, I proposed that all the proceeds from the sale of the state’s liquor stores be distributed based on a student-focused funding formula. I believe these were important steps to improve Pennsylvania’s distribution of education funding. Moving forward, Pennsylvania should continue to distribute new funding based on a student-focused funding model.