As part of its efforts to educate the Jewish community about candidates running for office and their positions, OU Advocacy-PA reached out to the candidates for governor with questions about education and more general issues. The Orthodox Union is a not-for-profit organization and does not endorse any candidate.
What role should the state have in providing and funding an education for every child?
Gov. Tom Corbett: The state has an obligation to ensure that every Pennsylvania student is prepared with the skills necessary to succeed in a rapidly changing 21st Century workforce. As a former public school teacher, I understand the importance of a quality education which is the reason I have increased funding for basic education by $1.55 billion since 2011; the highest level in Pennsylvania history.
Rob McCord: Investing in education is a moral and economic imperative for the commonwealth. It is also a constitutional requirement for the state to “provide for the maintenance and support of a thorough and efficient system of public education.” Unfortunately, Governor Corbett has failed to live up to these obligations. He has done a tremendous disservice to Pennsylvania’s children, and his failure to support education will have consequences for these students for the remainder of their lives.
Education will be my top priority as governor, because everything else – job creation, economic development, crime prevention, healthy lifestyles, and civic engagement – all improve with a better educated public. Not only will I restore the $1 billion Governor Corbett cut from our classrooms, but I will also dedicate considerable new resources that will provide greater access to voluntary, high-quality early childhood learning opportunities and that will make higher education more affordable for young adults.
Rep. Allyson Schwartz: Providing high-quality public education is the most fundamental responsibility of state government and the key to our children’s future and Pennsylvania’s economic prosperity. During my service in the Pennsylvania Senate, I served for a decade as the Democratic Chair of the Education Committee and pushed for greater investments in education.
As governor, I will make a historic commitment to early education to ensure that Pennsylvania’s children start school ready to learn. I will launch Keystone Kids, a landmark initiative to provide universal access to voluntary prekindergarten for all 4- year-olds within a decade. Keystone Kids will offer affordable access to all of Pennsylvania families and will serve children in a variety of high-quality, accredited settings, including school districts, licensed nursery schools, Head Start sites, and child care centers.
I will also recommit the Commonwealth to public education and reverse Governor Corbett’s nearly $1 billion of extreme cuts by growing the economy, re-prioritizing the existing budget, and drawing upon new resources from a five percent natural gas tax. There is no better investment for our children and our economic future.
Tom Wolf: The key to good jobs and a secure middle class is a strong public education system. The current way of funding schools in Pennsylvania shortchanges too many school districts and the students in those communities, and Governor Corbett’s more than $1 billion in education cuts have only made the problem worse.
We can and we must do better for our children and for Pennsylvania taxpayers. As governor, I will ensure that every public school student in the Commonwealth has access to the necessary resources by:
- Putting education first. This includes reversing Governor Corbett’s $1 billion in funding cuts, and examining where the state is spending money, cutting waste, and redirecting funds to education.
- Changing the funding streams. The State should increase its share of public education dollars to help relieve tax pressures on local property owners.
- Enacting a five percent extraction tax on natural gas and diverting some of that revenue to education programs.
- Instituting brick-and-mortar and cyber charter school funding formulas, which are projected to save up to $365 million per year.
- Using the power of the governor’s office to publicly and consistently reaffirm that public education is a shared responsibility and all Pennsylvanians need to commit to the education of our children, regardless of where they live.