A New Push for Student-Based Ed Funding?

Despite a history of one-note rhetoric about underfunded schools—and thus pushing for more spending and higher taxes—recent comments indicate Governor Wolf may be open to more nuanced education solutions.

  • In his February 2018 budget address, the governor advocated taking politics out of school funding and making sure “your zip code doesn't determine what kind of education you can get.”
  • Two weeks ago, Gov. Wolf signed the 2018-19 budget, including a $25 million increase for EITC K-12 scholarships. This will enable up to 15,000 previously-waitlisted kids to obtain scholarships.
  • And last week the governor called for the end of hold harmless, saying “We need a fair funding formula for all dollars going into public education,” though he quickly walked back the timeline on this idea.

Are these simply moderating-to-the-center moves we expect in an election year? Or is it possible Gov. Wolf is starting to accept policies that will allow all Pennsylvanian families to flourish?

In either case, the path forward is clear. Given Pennsylvania’s near-the-top education funding levels, we need smarter—not more—education spending. And the smartest way to allocate education resources is to let the money follow the child.

Both chambers of the legislature are showing commitment to this basic idea. Between two ESA (education savings accounts) bills and two tax credit scholarship increase proposals that stand to benefit thousands, Pa. students have reason to be optimistic.