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PA Education Budget: More Help For The Have-Nots

February 5, 2009

Harrisburg, PA - The union representing more than 187,000 Pennsylvania education professionals is hoping the governor's new budget, released Wednesday, will help close the gap between the "haves and have-nots" in the state's schools. The Pennsylvania State Education Association says groups of students with relatively equal ability do not achieve at the same levels; a problem its president calls one of the greatest challenges facing schools today.

President Jim Testerman is optimistic Governor Rendell's budget proposal, which includes $300 million in new basic education funding, will be effective in closing the gap between rich and poor school districts.

"Students in those places would have the same chance and opportunity that students who live in wealthier districts currently receive."

Despite the increase, the governor's proposal is less than the amount required to keep Pennsylvania on schedule to provide full school funding within six years. Still, Testerman says it is good for education.

"I really have to underscore how pleased we are with Governor Rendell, even in this difficult economy, continuing his commitment to public education in Pennsylvania."

Testerman says one area of particular concern is making sure children get a great start in life.

"If I could wave a magic wand and fix one thing, I would have the state and local communities invest more funding in birth-to-age-three child development."

PSEA also praised the governor’s proposal to increase funding to assist students attending community colleges and Pennsylvania’s 14 state-owned universities.

Glen Gardner, Public News Service - PA