AS I SEE IT: Corbett's budget invests in education
March 23, 2014 1:30 AM

Investing in Pennsylvania’s children is an investment in their future and the future of Pennsylvania. Gov. Tom Corbett’s 2014-15 budget dedicates a record $12.01 billion for Pennsylvania’s early, basic and postsecondary education system.

Of this amount, $10.1 billion is slated to support Pennsylvania students in pre-kindergarten to grade 12. Since taking office, Corbett has increased support of public schools by $1.55 billion.

Since 2011, Corbett’s Ready to Learn education agenda has transformed the state’s education system. Through targeted initiatives, the governor has increased accountability, infused stronger educational resources into classrooms, focused financial resources into initiatives that support all students, and created a transparent way for taxpayers to see how their tax dollars are benefiting students.

The School Performance Profile, www.paschoolperformance.org, shows that 73 percent of the state’s 3,000 public schools are preparing our children for a successful future.

Using multiple measures of student academic achievement, the profile gives an overview of the academic health of our public schools. Not only does it show the great things that are occurring, it highlights areas in need of improvement, something that is critical if we are to make our schools even better.

Corbett’s budget includes $240 million in new funding through the Ready to Learn Block Grant that is targeted to initiatives that are proven to raise student achievement.

Depending on a district’s profile score, it may use these additional dollars for curriculum development; extended learning opportunities for students; pre-kindergarten and full-day kindergarten programs; science, technology, engineering and mathematics education and hybrid learning; supplemental instruction in algebra I, biology, reading and writing; and instructional coaches for teachers.

This budget creates a $1 million Expanding Excellence Program for high-performing schools to mentor low-performing schools, enabling schools to collaborate and share best practices to raise student achievement.

Recognizing that every student learns differently, Corbett’s budget creates a new $10 million Hybrid Learning grant for schools to implement new instructional strategies. Hybrid learning blends traditional and digital learning to customize a student’s education and improve achievement.

To expand the reach to students with disabilities, this budget provides an additional $20 million for special education, increasing total funding to $1.05 billion. This increase will assist schools in meeting the costs of providing supports and programs to students.

The governor’s budget also sets aside $350,000 for three Governor’s Schools for the sciences, agriculture, and technology and engineering. These summer programs offer talented high school juniors the opportunity to engage in cooperative learning and hands-on research.

Corbett recognizes the importance of early learning and the positive impact it has on preparing our youngest students for K-12 education. This budget invests a total of $374 million — an additional $10.8 million — into Pre-K Counts, Head Start and Early Intervention. This increase will enable an additional 3,170 children to have access to high-quality learning opportunities.

The governor is also committed to making postsecondary education affordable and accessible to all Pennsylvanians.

In addition to $345 million for student grants and $1.2 billion to support community colleges and the state-owned and state-related universities, the governor’s new $25 million Ready to Succeed Scholarship is targeted to student’s whose family earns up to $110,000. Recipients would receive up to $2,000 each year.

Corbett’s budget not only provides an additional $387 million for education, it strategically invests these new dollars into Pennsylvania’s children to raise student achievement and ensure that all of our children are prepared for the jobs of tomorrow.

Carolyn C. Dumaresq, Ed.D., is Pennsylvania’s acting secretary of education.

Disclaimer: Copyright © 2014 Indiana Gazette. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

http://www.indianagazette.com/news/opinions-letters/as-i-see-it-corbetts-budget-invests-in-education,19541547/