Education Policy - Kolbe Cole for State Representative

Education Policy

Education Policy Proposals

My Eight Goals:

Increase State Education Funding
Reduce Local Property Taxes
Reduce Standardized Testing
Develop Cooperative Elective Programs
Stimulate Workforce Development
Reform Public School/Charter School Funding Allocation
Improve Mental Health
School Board Accountability

#1: State & Local Education Reform

The lack of investment in our youth from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is troubling.

Here are the facts:

• Only 38.7% of education funding in Pennsylvania comes from the state.
• Pennsylvania is currently ranked 44th in the Country for state education funding despite Pennsylvania being ranked 8th in total tax revenue.
• Local taxpayers make up – on average – 54.9% of the funding needed for their local school district (14.8% higher than the US average).

Our educators are the only thing standing between our youth and their adult lives – we need to start treating them better. Despite being 8th in tax revenue, we still have teachers using their own money to purchase supplies or using crowdfunding to ensure their students have an adequate classroom experience. How can we expect our youth to receive adequate education when the funding our educators rely on is inadequate?

Proposal #1: Increase State Funding to 51.5% (+12.8%)

  • This would allow school districts to not only increase their basic education funding but also allow them to significantly increase their special education funding to allow for higher-quality programs and services for these youth that equally deserve a quality education.
  • It would also lower the average taxpayer burden to an estimated 42.1%; only 2% higher than the national average (compared to the current 14.8%).

Proposal #2: Develop A New Formula That Eliminates Education Funding Disparity

All 500 school districts and the 1.4 million students must receive their fair share of state education funding.

#2: Reduce Standardized Testing

Standardized testing should not be our “Golden Rule” and we cannot use these tests to measure the worth of our school districts and their student on test scores.

While Pennsylvania has seen a reduction in standardized testing in recent years, these tests still place an enormous burden on our educators and restrict their ability to properly develop a curriculum that engages our youth and their interests.

All teachers should be encouraged to develop a lesson plan that encourages youth to learn, think outside the box, find new interests, expand their horizons, and solve challenging problems - not be forced to teach to the requirements of standardized tests.

Ultimately, a school's curriculum should be a combination of:

  1. Educating students on various subjects
  2. Expanding the interests of students
  3. Preparing youth for the workforce
  4. Developing critical thinking & problem-solving abilities 

Proposal #3: Public school students will not be required to take standardized tests more than once in the primary phase and twice in the secondary phase

Students would take tests:

  • Once in the 5th Grade (Primary Phase)
  • Once in the 8th Grade (Lower Secondary Phase)
  • Once in the 11th Grade (Upper Secondary Phase)

#3: Create Cooperative Elective Programs

All 500 of our school districts have unique strengths. By developing cooperative elective programs shared amongst neighboring school districts, it would allow youth to benefit from the strengths of all school districts in their area – not just their own.

This would make our collective education programs stronger while also providing our youth with more opportunities to explore future career interests.

Initially, this would be limited to youth residing within the tri-county area of Beaver, Butler, and Lawrence counties, with the intention of expanding to eventual statewide adoption.

Proposal #4: Develop cooperative elective programs between neighboring school districts

  • These electives would be available to any student in the area, not just students in that particular school. 
  • These programs would, much like extracurricular activities, function after-school or on weekends, but would count for credit.

#4: Youth-Driven Workforce Development

With less focus on standardize tests, our educators can focus on what’s most important – preparing our youth to survive in an adult world.

Our youth are intelligent, passionate, and talented. We must spend more time listening to them so that we can cultivate them and help become integrated in society. By reducing standardized tests, expanding our curriculums, developing more elective options, and adding proper guidance for our youth, we can help our youth constructively explore their interests at a younger age, which will not only help them figure out what they want to do in life, but also what they don’t want to do.

Proposal #5: Create a workforce development plan based on youth interests

  • Allows youth from a younger age to broaden their interests, expand their knowledge and understanding of new subjects, and develop more skills.
  • Encourages youth to pursue their interests by more openly displaying their options.
  • Works to eliminate the various stigmas attached to different career options.
  • Allows schools to integrate new electives that allow youth to experience a greater variety of career interests and life skills development.

#5: Public School Funding Allocation

I propose a total and complete re-evaluation of the public-school allocation system in Pennsylvania.

Some of our charter & cyber charter schools are bleeding our public-school districts dry. In our current system, the majority of the tax burden (~55%) falls on the local taxpayer within each district.

Charter schools are privately managed but are still considered public schools. When a student enrolls in a charter school, they are not required to pay tuition as if they would if they enrolled in a private school. Instead, the school district in which that student resides is required to pay the “tuition” of that student to the charter school.

Administrative budgets in charter schools are nearly double of public schools.

Since the cost of charter schools has increased significantly – while the state funding for public schools has not – it has created an incredible financial burden on our public schools.

Proposal #6: Develop A New Formula That Dictates How Much Districts Are Required to Pay to Charter Schools.

As with the increase in public education funding and reforming how those funds are distributed to public schools, I would reform the way those funds are allocated to charter schools.

#6: Employ Mental Health Professionals in Public Schools

I believe that the best way we can begin to fight the mental health crisis in our nation is with our youth. We need to start normalizing the issue and making our youngest understand that it's okay to need help. 

By employing mental health professionals, our schools can offer a necessary service to our youth, our teachers, and other employees of the school district. This would be cost-effective and accessible for all. 

In addition, our guidance counselors could then be able to focus on the necessary academic tasks that are assigned to them and be better equipped and able to provide the guidance our students need toward their future careers.

Proposal #7: Afford schools the opportunity to employ more staff by increasing the funding statewide. 

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  • Jacob Charles
    published this page in Policy 2020-10-25 07:36:11 -0400