A state budget can tackle the pressing issues or crises facing Pennsylvania today. It can also look into the future and better prepare the commonwealth to be more competitive, efficient and prosperous. With Governor Wolf’s budget address just a week away, we thought we’d make the case for how to do both.
Research shows when schools are properly funded, students do better and so does the economy. Is it any wonder then that our students are floundering and businesses are looking elsewhere for workers?
93% of businesses have difficulty finding qualified employees and 76% of them say the readiness of PA’s labor force is fair or poor, according to a 2016 survey that spoke to 428 employers.
VOCATION VOCATION VOCATION
We all know there are more profound changes coming to the job market thanks to continued global competition and technological advancements. But if the students we graduate aren’t up to the job today, and we perpetuate a system that will only produce citizens unable to compete in the world, what will this mean for our economy in the coming decades?
Like all states, Pennsylvania’s public schools are funded at the federal, state and local level. However, the state’s relative share of contribution to education funding ranks far below the national average.
Consequently, local governments and taxpayers are largely funding public education. This structure does not ensure that every student/prospective employee has access to high quality teachers, materials, rigorous classes, tutoring or other skills he or she needs to succeed.
Fewer than half of Pennsylvania 4th and 8th graders were proficient in reading or math in 2013, according a nationally administered exam. Low income students, minority students and students whose parents have less than a high school education fared even worse
This “failure to thrive” is costing us billions of dollars every year. Research suggests that educational performance gaps cost Pennsylvania’s existing labor force a projected $1 billion to $3 billion in lost earnings or $1 billion to $2 billion in diminished GDP annually.
LEARN AND EARN
More per-pupil spending leads to significant growth in math, reading, and science test scores for 4th and 8th grade students. For low income kids, an annual increase in school funding translated into significant growth in high school graduation rates, higher earning potential, increased family income and reduced the incidence of adult poverty.
The factors impacting education are complicated. The solution, however, is simple. Pennsylvania public schools educate 1,731,588 students annually. When we adequately invest in every kid in every neighborhood, we are investing in a middle class. We are lifting families out of generational poverty. We are creating employees capable of earning family-sustaining income. We are preparing graduates that are workforce ready.
When we fail to invest in our students, we signal to employers that we’re not handling our business very well and are certainly not ready for theirs. We hope legislators this year keep their eyes on this bottom line.
How can you make sure your legislators hear you? Meet them face-to-face.
Join PCCY on any one (or more) of our Capitol Caravans to Harrisburg for pre-k!
“It will serve us well to remember that these are real children, and the White House’s current policies will do real harm. America will be better served if we treat children with dignity and respect, a common thread among decent people throughout the world.” Katherine Yun, CHOP . LEARN MORE