Public schools are falling further and further behind in America. Trust, transparency and academic loss is driving families away from the long-standing system that used to be top-notch in global competition. As more students leave, so does the money. Districts report struggling to keep schools funded at necessary levels, and states are having to funnel more money to keep them afloat. In Pennsylvania, the situation must be dire, as the eastern state is funneling large amounts of taxpayer dollars to education spending, hitting record amounts.
A Pennsylvania news channel, WKBN, reports on the high education spending in The Keystone State. The state education budget broke another record this year, as they report it has year after year over the last decade or so. For the 2021-2022 school year, funds were increased by $500 million, bringing the state’s total to $13.3 billion this last year.
Additionally, education spending per student has reached nearly $20,000 per pupil. Ranking the state in 8th place nationally for amounts spent on each student, this number exceeds the total national average by about $4,000. Despite this long-standing high ranking, many lobbyists advocating for more funding for schools called on the state to improve, and democratic Gov. Tom Wolf answered.
Since Wolf took office seven years ago, he has increased the state’s education spending by $3.2 billion. But given that schools were also given a heft chunk of COVID relief funds this year, many naysayers now wonder where all this money has gone. In fact, data shows that some public school districts stockpiled $5.29 billion in reserve funds this last year. Likewise, since the state still has $5.46 billion in unspent relief funds, a political clash over the state’s budget will likely be pursued.
Leading to debate, student enrollment continues to fall in public schools. Because of this, many wonder why the state education spending budget continues to sharply increase. However, this could act as a double-edged sword as well. Since funding is tied to students, as more students leave the system, schools receive less funding. In turn, this might qualify the need to increase spending per student, with fewer children in the classroom.
However, another reason for defectors arguing that the amount of education spending in the state is ludicrous is because of the continuous loss in academics. Nearly every student in the state this year was unable to score proficient or higher in math. Similarly, less than half scored proficient in English language arts. Therefore, it’s hard to correlate an increase in funding with boosting academic success.
While the Democratic governor and his backers in office tout the hefty education spending budget in Pennsylvania as a win, the majority of parents and families see it as a failure. It would be one thing if the increase was showing tangible results, but it’s not. The issue has become so earnest to many, that citizens recently held a rally in Harrisburg, calling on the state and districts to use up their reserves to boost schools. Whether or not lawmakers listen, is yet to be seen, but will surely show next school year.