It’s not everyday you hear a job candidate say, “Hey, let’s cut public school funding by the billions, lay off a ton of teachers, and send class sizes through the roof.”
Yet that’s what Senator Doug Mastriano wants to do if he’s elected governor in November, even if he doesn’t put it that way.
Mastriano expressed support in March for cutting per-student spending in public schools from an annual average of more than $19,000 to just $9,000 or $10,000, per-student funding levels not seen in Pennsylvania for more than $19,000. two decades.
This idea, along with its plan to eliminate local school property taxes, would represent a loss of more than $12 billion for public school districts, charter schools, vocational and technical centers and intermediate units, according to an analysis. of the State of Pennsylvania. Education Association (PSEA). About 118,700 public education jobs would be lost, which would more than double the teacher-student ratio in schools across the state.
The results would be disastrous in Allegheny County. Pittsburgh public schools would see the biggest dollar impact, with nearly $250 million lost in revenue and a 51% reduction in staff, according to the PSEA analysis. Many suburban districts would see funding cuts of 30% or more, with some over 40% and one – Allegheny Valley – over 50%. Deep staff cuts would more than double teacher-student ratios in most county districts.
Imagine what our public schools would look like with a fraction of the teachers, counselors, nurses, custodians, bus drivers and assistants? What would this mean for the education and welfare of Pennsylvania students?
There is no doubt that Mastriano’s plan would upset our schools. Students would lose learning opportunities, extracurricular and athletic activities, and time with educators and support staff.
One thing his terrible plan would accomplish: school districts would no longer have to worry about staffing shortages. They would be too busy laying off educators and support staff, increasing class sizes and eliminating student programs.
This idea is completely out of step with elected officials from both parties. No one else is talking about cutting school funding that much. Over the past eight years, Pennsylvania policymakers from both parties have come together to make the necessary investments in our public schools.
Mastriano, if elected, would undo all of that progress, returning Pennsylvania to levels of school funding not seen in decades.
Attorney General Josh Shapiro, the Democratic candidate for governor, has a long track record of supporting public education and students in Pennsylvania. He will fight for continued investments in our public schools and ensure that our students have the tools they need to succeed, including access to vocational, technical and IT training as well as other academic activities. and extracurriculars.
How we fund public schools is one of the most important functions of state government. Mastriano’s dismissive notion that we can cut public school funding by more than $12 billion is just the latest evidence that he is unfit to lead.
We need a better vision for the future of public education – a vision that ensures students will have access to educators, nurses, counselors, extracurricular activities, sports and other programs that prepare them to be the leaders of tomorrow .