The Best Thing That Happened This Week: The State Legislature Got Something Done
In America these days, we’re so accustomed to legislative stalemates that any actual lawmaking — well, any that doesn’t make it harder to get an abortion or easier to buy guns — comes as a genuine shock. Which is why we were surprised — make that astonished — when this week the state House, following the lead of the Senate, overwhelmingly passed a school-funding bill that’s a step in the right direction for public education in Pennsylvania. The state will now actually take into account changes in enrollment that districts undergo, the added costs of educating impoverished and ESL students, how many kids are in charter schools, how much local taxpayers are giving to their schools relative to median household income and other relevant factors, according to a formula hammered out by a bipartisan commission. Last year, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan cited Pennsylvania’s gap in spending between rich and poor districts as by far the biggest in the nation. Apparently that shamed our legislators into action at last.
No one’s completely thrilled with the bill, and most people agree the schools still need more money. But as Bill Patton, spokesman for the House Democrats, put it, the new formula “certainly makes the distribution less political.” It also should help streamline the agonizing annual negotiations over how to allocate education funding. Your signature, please, Governor Wolf.
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