Center for Educational Excellence

The Center for Educational Excellence strives to implement reforms that create greater incentives for schools to respect parents and students as customers; encourage continuous quality improvement, parental involvement, and respect for teachers as professionals; and use taxpayers’ resources more efficiently.

Research Items


Is Your School Hoarding Cash? 42% of Districts Hold Questionable Reserves

School district reserves total $4.3 billion statewide. When cries for more school funding—and property tax increases—are constant, how much is too much to hold in reserve?


'Underfunded' Pa. Schools Spend Nearly $16,000 Per Pupil

Contradicting the claim that Pennsylvania underfunds its school system, public school spending hit an all-time high in the 2014-15 school year, approaching $27.4 billion—or $15,854 per student—according to the latest state Department of Education data.

JUNE 8, 2016 | Policy Memo by JAMES PAUL

School Spending Update, 2014-15

Pennsylvania school districts spent approximately $27.4 billion in 2014-15. This represents a $1.3 billion increase from 2013-14, despite a 12,000 student decrease in average daily membership.


Ghost Teachers Bill Advances in State House

Today, the state House Education Committee advanced HB 2125, which would strictly limit teachers’ unions’ ability to pluck teachers from the classroom to work full-time for the union while remaining on the public payroll.

MAY 18, 2016 | News Release by COMMONWEALTH FOUNDATION

Wolf Sacrifices Great Teachers for Union Approval

Gov. Tom Wolf today chose to side with teachers’ union leaders over high-performing teachers by vetoing the Protecting Excellent Teachers Act (HB 805). The bill, championed by Rep. Stephen Bloom, would have ensured that during furloughs, teachers are retained based on performance rather than on the number of years they have been teaching.

MAY 12, 2016 | News Release by COMMONWEALTH FOUNDATION

Growing Chorus says "Last-in, First-out" Must Go

Thousands of teachers go above and beyond mere job descriptions because they see teaching not simply as a profession but as a calling. If Governor Wolf carries through on his threat to veto a bill protecting these teachers, their jobs could be at risk.

MAY 9, 2016 | News Availability by COMMONWEALTH FOUNDATION

Pa. Senate Votes to Protect Great Teachers

In a victory for public school students and teachers, the state Senate today voted to end Pennsylvania’s last-in-first-out policy and finally give excellent teachers the protection their performance deserves.


Obama, Wolf at Odds over Charter Schools

President Obama last week proclaimed May 1-7 “National Charter Schools Week,” praising charters for their “innovation” and calling on “[s]tates and communities to support high-quality public schools, including charter schools.” Yet, even as thousands of Pennsylvania students sit on charter waitlists, Gov. Wolf has taken every opportunity to undercut the state’s charters.

APRIL 13, 2016 | Policy Memo by ELIZABETH STELLE

Governor Wolf’s 2015-16 Budget Myths

Governor Wolf claimed the 2015-16 budget could not be balanced without significant tax hikes. But there are two ways exist to close a budget deficit: raise revenue or cut spending. Lawmakers closed the projected budget deficit by spending less—$3.8 billion less.

APRIL 11, 2016 | Policy Memo by JAMES PAUL

Education Spending Trends: April 2016

Pennsylvania’s FY 2015-16 budget was finalized in late March when Gov. Tom Wolf allowed HB 1801, a supplemental funding bill, to become law. This legislation appropriated an additional $3.1 billion for K-12 education—on top of nearly $8 billion that was signed into law in December 2015.

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