Teachers’ union speaks out on Mastriano’s plan to change school funding | Pennsylvania News

HARRISBURG, Pa. — School funding has been a major topic for the Pennsylvania Legislature and the state’s gubernatorial candidates.

Republican gubernatorial candidate Doug Mastriano has a plan that calls for completely changing the way schools are funded.

Just as the state legislature approved a $1 billion increase in spending for Pennsylvania public schools, Mastriano is calling for a massive cut in favor of giving some of that money to parents for more school choice. .

But Pennsylvania’s largest teachers’ union says it doesn’t give the proposal a passing grade.

“Certainly cutting school spending by more than $12 billion would undermine the public schools we have, we would have a system that looks nothing like what it is today,” said Chris Lilienthal of the Pennsylvania State Education Association.

PSEA says the plan lacks detail but would halve funding per student.

Mastriano spoke about it in a radio interview in March.

“I think instead of $19,000, we fund each student about $9,000 or $10,000, and they can decide which school to go to, public school, private school, religious school, cyber school, or home school.” , Mastriano told WRTA in Altoona.

Mastriano’s campaign website says there would be education opportunity accounts for parents as well as expanded scholarship programs for private schools, such as the EITC and OITC.

However, Lilienthal says these programs lack oversight and, using available data, estimates a cut of nearly $13 billion in education funding. This includes charter, vocational and technical schools as well as a loss of over 118,000 positions.

Allentown could lose $98 million and nearly 1,000 employees. Bethlehem could lose over $100 million and 861 employees.

“I think the larger goal of the proposal is to really defund public schools,” Bethlehem Superintendent Joseph Roy said.

Republican State Rep. Gary Day, who lost in the primary, defends Mastriano’s plan, saying “parental choice is an important part of bringing market forces to education.”

He also said most superintendents should leave politics to elected officials.

Lilienthal says the union’s position is not political, but strictly educational.

“It’s not really about one candidate or the other. It’s about what’s best for the future of public education,” Lilienthal said.

We contacted Mastriano directly, but got no response.

As for his Democratic opponent Josh Shapiro, he said he supports full funding for public schools.

It comes as a decision is expected this fall in the landmark school funding trial. If Mastriano were to win and go through with this plan, it would certainly affect this court ruling, but the state legislature would have to approve his plan.

Andrew B. Reiter