Gov, Corbett’s Ready to Learn agenda

Investing in Pennsylvania’s children is an investment in their futures and the future of the Commonwealth. Governor Tom Corbett’s 2014-15 budget dedicates a record $12.01 billion – $387 million more than last year into Pennsylvania’s early, basic and postsecondary education system.

Of this amount, $10.1 billion is slated to support Pennsylvania students from pre-kindergarten through grade 12. Since taking office, Governor Corbett has increased support of public education by $1.55 billion.

Since 2011, Governor Corbett’s Ready to Learn education agenda has transformed the state’s education system. Through targeted initiatives, the governor has increased accountability and transparency, infused stronger educational resources into classrooms, focused financial resources into initiatives that support ALL students, and created a transparent way for taxpayers to see how their tax dollars are benefitting students.

The School Performance Profile, www.paschoolperformance.org, shows that 73 percent of the state’s 3,000 public schools are doing well in preparing our children for a successful future.

The profile gives an overview of the academic health of our public schools using multiple measures of student achievement, such as graduation rate, attendance rate, promotion rate, the number of students performing at or above grade level, and student academic growth.

The profile not only shows the great things happening in our schools, it highlights areas in need of improvement, something that is critical if we are to make our schools even better.

Governor Corbett’s budget provides $240 million in new funding through the Ready to Learn Block Grant and is targeted to initiatives that are proven to raise student performance. Public schools across the state will share in this funding.

Depending on a district’s profile score, schools may use funding for curriculum development; offer extended learning opportunities for students; implement pre-kindergarten and full-day kindergarten programs; create or expand science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education and hybrid learning; provide supplemental instruction in algebra I, biology, reading and writing; and provide instructional coaches for teachers.

Flexibility will be provided if a school requests to invest in other strategies shown to improve student achievement.

This budget creates a $1 million Expanding Excellence Program for high-performing schools to mentor one or more low-performing schools. It enables schools to share best practices and strategies and collaborate to raise student achievement.

Every student learns differently, so Governor Corbett’s budget also creates a new $10 million Hybrid Learning grant for schools to implement new instructional strategies. Hybrid learning blends traditional and digital learning to customize a student’s education and improve achievement.

To expand the reach to our students with disabilities, this budget provides an additional $20 million for special education, increasing total funding to $1.05 billion. This increase will assist schools in meeting the costs of providing important supports and programs to students.

The Governor’s budget also sets aside $350,000 in funding for three Governor’s Schools for the sciences, agriculture, and technology and engineering. These summer programs provide talented high school juniors an opportunity to engage in cooperative learning and hands-on research at no cost.

Governor Corbett recognizes the importance of early learning and the positive impact it has on preparing our youngest students for K-12 education. This budget invests a total of $374 million an additional $10.8 million into Pre-K Counts, Head Start and Early Intervention. This increase will enable an additional 3,170 children to have access to high quality learning opportunities.

The Governor is committed to making postsecondary education affordable and accessible to all Pennsylvanians.

In addition to $345 million for student grants and $1.2 billion to support community colleges and the state-owned and state-related universities, the Governor’s new $25 million Ready to Succeed Scholarship is targeted to student’s whose family earns up to $110,000. Recipients would receive up to $2,000 each year.

Governor Corbett’s budget not only provides an additional $387 million for education, it strategically invests these new dollars into Pennsylvania’s children to raise student achievement and ensure that all of our children are prepared for the jobs of tomorrow.