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December 2013 Vol. 21. No. 3 Focus on A Broken Funding System

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Taking a stand on education funding

John Hanger (D)

By the Notebook on Dec 6, 2013 11:33 AM

Funding of K-12 education in Pennsylvania is a disaster and is facilitating the privatization of our schools. State government should provide at least 50 percent of K-12 funding, instead of the approximately 32 percent it does now. I will increase funding by $1 billion within two years. Increased funds must be distributed in a manner that supports districts with high numbers of low-income students, special education students, and English-as-a-second-language students. 

Changing the funding formula is a necessity. Another necessity is no longer funding charter and cyber-charter schools with poor student performance and ending overpayments to charter schools. Unless charter schools are held accountable, the privatization of our public schools will continue. While I oppose funding for failed charter schools, I will fund good-performing charter schools.

Schools with large numbers of poor children need more resources and not less. For poor children, high-quality, early childhood education and a longer school day and school year are essential interventions needed to close the learning gap. Also, resources should be devoted to support teacher training led by master teachers. 

In addition, instruction and curriculum must not be driven by testing. Testing must be an instructional tool for diagnostic purposes, and not an instructional goal.

Improving public education certainly requires more and fairer funding, but those measures are not enough. The next governor must support measures that attack poverty, like health care for all, a $10 per hour minimum wage, and job creation.



John Hanger is the former secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection and former commissioner of the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission. He is an expert on energy, environment, green economy, competitive electric markets, and utility regulation with unique experience in and out of government.

Hanger has made leading regulatory decisions, testified to Congress and state legislatures, and been interviewed countless times, appearing on CBS Evening News, NBC Evening News, CNN, BBC, CBC, and many more outlets. 

Hanger is a 1984 law graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and a 1979 graduate of Duke University. He is currently a full-time Democratic candidate for governor of Pennsylvania.

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